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This article is brought to you by National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC).
Passionate about the corporate giving movement, Shyn Yee Ho-Strangas, director of business operations, Expedia Inc., comments on the rewards reaped from businesses doing good.
At Expedia, we believe businesses have a role to play in giving back to the community, to drive greater impact through collective action, that’s why we’ve made a commitment to be part of the corporate giving movement by joining NVPC’s Company of Good.
As a founding member, we were invited to be part of the inaugural Company of Good Fellowship programme. I accepted without hesitation as this would be a fantastic opportunity to meet, learn and gain insights from like-minded individuals, who are similarly driving CSR initiatives within their organisations.
Now, three months into the Fellowship and it is apparent that I have reaped much more than I had imagined or expected. The inaugural Fellowship attracted 39 Fellows from 30 SMEs and MNCs, participating on their own will and supported by the organisations which they represent. Across industries ranging from professional services to food, from technology to hospitality and at diverse levels of giving – connected by a simple but powerful mission – to do good.
Surely, one does not need to partake in a Fellowship to do good?
Indeed, we are all capable of doing it every day in our own little ways (have you recycled today?). But what sets these working professionals apart is that these Fellows are acutely aware of something else – that businesses too have a responsibility to do good and that we can leverage on available resources and strong partnerships to multiply and amplify this goodness.
On top of the Fellowship, NVPC has developed a robust and holistic programme including a poverty sensitisation workshop, a mentorship component (special shout-out to my mentor Gina Ho, CSR lead from IBM – thank you for all your guidance!), structured modules held at the National University of Singapore, panel discussions with practitioners from both the public and private sectors, and visits to local non-profit organisations. All Fellows are also required to work on an Action Project (#nopressure) which we fine-tune throughout the duration of the programme as we gain new perspectives.
NVPC, together with the Fellows, have successfully created a trusting, supportive and collaborative environment for participants to share ideas, provide constructive feedback and partner on projects. In joining this Fellowship programme, I was particularly interested in two areas, namely the development of sustainable CSR initiatives and the measurement of impact (or in business terms, ROI; or in simple terms, “show me the money/ benefits”). As a result, I have personally found the class modules particularly beneficial.
All Fellows are also required to work on an Action Project (#nopressure) which we fine-tune throughout the duration of the programme as we gain new perspectives.
Conducted by CSR experts from Corporate Citizenship and CSR Asia, and curated specially for this fellowship, the content is illustrated by many real-life case studies, making it relatable, relevant and practical. The sessions have also pushed me to think beyond the framework by approaching CSR from multiple angles (as Patsian Low, our facilitator, would often chant, “4-Is, Ladies and Gentlemen – investment, integration, institutionalisation, impact!”).
Participating in this Fellowship has injected a renewed energy as I continue to work with Expedia Singapore’s CSR employee volunteer committee to create and drive initiatives for the business to give back, and for employees to engage in an important purpose larger than ourselves. I find myself being more conscious about my daily decisions, knowing that every little bit counts, every little act has a consequence and everyone can truly make a difference.
Getting to know the Fellows and mentors, their motivations and the impact they create, has been both inspiring and humbling. It has made me deliberate the onus of my leadership – where I’ve realised that a greater, collective purpose makes the marathon worth the run.
Doing good is not and should not be a nice-to-have – it is an ethical imperative for businesses. It is our responsibility to the stakeholders who give us the license to operate – our shareholders, employees, customers, societies, environment and the future that our children will inherit. The task at hand is large, important thus challenging; but the going is made more fruitful and memorable with Fellows.
Groom your future leaders through CSR today. Company of Good Fellowship is a talent development programme that develops high potential corporate leaders in a CSR role by providing the relevant education, experiences, environment and exposure. Find out more at: https://www.nvpc.org.sg/cogfellowship