Corporate social responsibility is a big deal for potential employees

Author: Kate Whitehead | Date: 21 Sep 2016

People want to work for “caring companies” that give something back to the community

When faced with two similar job opportunities, most people would choose the employer that can prove it is making a charitable donation or giving back in some way.
This is according to the latest research from Regus, in which almost half of Asian employees (47 percent) reported it is important to them that their employer is involved in charity or other CSR work.
“Today’s employees are clearly driven by much more than an egotistical compulsion to get ahead, and clearly state that they would prefer working for an organisation with a good social track record,” said Natina Wong, country manager of Regus Hong Kong, adding that involvement in charitable or community-based activities not only projects an image of a positive and responsible organisation, but also helps people feel proud of where they work.
Vincent Romano, managing director of Elliott Scott HR, south east Asia, said that while CSR initiatives paint employers in a positive light, they are just the icing on the cake.
“I think it’s nice to have, but it’s not a deal breaker. The most important factors are salaries, opportunities, a growth market, a good manager and opportunities for development,” said Romano.
From Singapore, Romano said that he sees organisations that are perceived in a negative light using the positive spin of CSR or charitable work to improve their profile.
“International banks are perceived as being ‘bad’ – they don’t treat their staff well, there are a lot of sackings, they are believed to be involved in a lot of dodgy deals. They might want to use CSR to paint a better picture of themselves, especially if they’ve had a hard time in the press,” said Romano.
Paid time off (PTO) is a standard fixture in the contracts of a number of multinational organisations and international banks. “It’s a win-win-win situation - the community, staff and the employer all benefit,” said Dr Jamie Cheung, programme director of the Masters of Human Resources Management at Hong Kong Baptist University.
Organisations are also increasingly buying into the idea that profit isn’t paramount and that the society they serve is also important, said Dr Cheung. In Hong Kong, the Council of Social Services hands out “caring company” awards, whose number has risen sharply from 494 in 2004 to more than 3,200 today.
What’s more, many organisations now produce annual sustainability reports that catalogue achievements in this field. Being seen as a “caring company” is clearly good for business – and if it helps retain and attract talent, that’s a bonus.
“There is a positive connection between globalisation and CSR in Asia. Firms that operate internationally are more likely to implement CSR into their strategy. Global brands need to protect their reputation, respond to competitive pressure and boost productivity,” said Nathalie Renson, group head of communications at Regus.
Dr Cheung said multinationals are expected to be responsive to local, community needs - not only do they have the money, but it also represents an opportunity for them.
But Romano isn’t convinced that the “caring company” trend will continue in the face of difficult economic times.
“At the moment in Singapore, there’s more bad news than good news. Redundancies are slightly up, people are very cost conscious and will cut back on the nice-to-haves,” he said.