CGS-CIMB Securities’ three-pronged approach to CSR

HRO catches up with Samuel Sobrielo, Head of HR (Singapore), CGS-CIMB Securities, to learn what drives CSR efforts at the organisation, how the HR function leads it, and more.

In January 2022, CGS-CIMB Securities, an integrated financial services provider with a global presence, pledged at least S$1mn to the Singapore Community Chest (or ComChest) as part of its commitment to foster a culture of giving and supporting individuals and families in need.

The funds, announced in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) event held back then, would be disbursed through a three-year holistic corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme, and champion ComChest’s Change for Charity initiative – where ComChest partners with businesses to provide opportunities for their customers to give conveniently and spontaneously.

In this case, CGS-CIMB has opened up channels for direct donations and fundraising by enabling its staff in Singapore to make regular donations, as well as enabling clients in Singapore to give through their trading platforms. In particular, the initiative sees a three-pronged approach to CSR:

  • The Change for Charity programme, where CGS-CIMB's clients in Singapore can donate on a subscription basis and/or when they make a trade;
  • The SHARE programme, a regular giving initiative of ComChest to provide a sustained source of funds to support social service agencies and social programmes, where CGS-CIMB employees in Singapore may donate voluntarily monthly via payroll, and
  • The outright donation programme, where companies can donate to ComChest-funded programmes.

At the event held in January, Singapore’s Minister of State for Social & Family Development, and Education, Sun Xueling, expressed her delight at this move: "I am heartened that corporates like CGS-CIMB are supporting social causes and influencing positive efforts in the community. Through their platforms, they are making it easy for their customers and stakeholders to give back to the community."

Carol Fong, Group CEO and CEO, CGS-CIMB Singapore, affirmed the intention behind the move, saying that the company believes in investing with sense and purpose. "With this partnership, we have made possible a direct platform for our staff, our clients and our company to facilitate donations to ComChest. More importantly, it is allowing us to create a community of givers to help those in need," she added.

Phillip Tan, Chairman, Community Chest, appreciates how its partners are making it easy for their customers to donate with every transaction. This, he said, will "multiply the positive impact we can make and galvanise the community to take action.”

Fast forward to the present, CGS-CIMB Securities team is ready for the official launch of the SHARE programme, and the system readiness for the Change for Charity programme in place on 1 April 2022, Friday.

Samuel Sobrielo, Head of Human Resources (Singapore), CGS-CIMB Securities, took the time to sit down exclusively with HRO’s Lester Tan, and shared what drives CSR efforts at the organisation, how the HR function leads CSR, and how to get employees involved in this endeavour.

Read on for the interview:

Q Tell us, what drives CSR at CGS-CIMB?

CGS-CIMB's commitment to CSR and making a difference to our community is firmly embedded in the highest echelons of our company. It is part of our overall strategic focus and reflected in our purpose of 'Driving individuals and communities to make better investment decisions for a sustainable future’.

As part of the company's sustainability, as well as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy, CSR is firmly entrenched as a key pillar. As such, the company's partnership with ComChest is indeed a significant milestone in this journey. Through a three-year holistic CSR programme, under which we have pledged at least S$1mn to ComChest, CGS-CIMB aims to foster a culture of giving and supporting individuals and families-in-need.

Through this CSR programme, we enable donations to ComChest conveniently in the following ways:

  • ComChest’s SHARE employee regular-giving programme;
  • The Change for Charity programme available to clients;
  • Outright donations by the company to ComChest-funded programmes.

CGS-CIMB is proud to be the first financial institution in Singapore to champion the Change for Charity initiative. In this initiative, ComChest aims to encourage individuals to donate through consumption-based transactions by partnering businesses to provide opportunities for their customers to donate to ComChest through their payment platforms.

The company's CSR efforts are not solely focused on philanthropic giving. We have also collaborated with tertiary institutions such as Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Republic Polytechnic to roll out a series of financial literacy programmes to enhance financial literacy in the community. Our efforts are focused on youths, with the remit to allow this next generation of investors to make informed decisions by enhancing their financial awareness.

Q  How does HR lead CSR (in your role as the Head of HR, how do you balance both hats?) and how it can benefit the organisation and its people in the long run?

At a national level, the aim is to foster a community spirit, where giving is part of our everyday lives. Given our commitment to such a cause, it is essential for HR to similarly embed and promote this spirit as part of the company's organisational culture.

HR strives to enable this via various initiatives, including:

  • Incorporating this as part of our core values - One of our core values is that of being people-oriented. This encompasses creating value not only for our employees but also for our clients and all stakeholders.
  • Leadership by example - Our senior leadership team makes a conscious effort to share the importance of CSR. The company's participation in various CSR initiatives has been shared by both our GCEO and Deputy CEO at multiple forums, including employee townhalls as well as leadership meetings with business heads.
  • Employee communication - The company adopts a very deliberate and considered approach in our internal comms department. In addition to sharing the Group's initiatives, efforts are made for sharing the rationale of CSR, why it is important for the company to give back to our community, and how our CSR programmes tie into our overall business objectives.
  • Continued partnership with ComChest - The success of our CSR initiatives will only be achieved through a strong partnership with all stakeholders, one of them being ComChest. Both parties have continued our engagement, including having ComChest organise a roadshow in our office to allow our employees to understand how they can contribute in various ways to support communities-in-need.

Fostering this sense of altruism will undoubtedly have a multitude of intangible benefits for the company. A culture of care, concern, family-centredness, and selfless collaboration would only be a few of the many ripple effects that will permeate the organisation. CGS-CIMB's journey towards establishing a unique company culture will only be further enhanced through our CSR efforts.

Q How does the organisation encourage its workforce to contribute and why it needs to get involved? Give us tips on participation!

For us to forge a unifying company culture, encouraging employee involvement and engagement is of paramount importance and will be a critical success factor. We strongly encourage and enable all our employees to feel part of the company and ultimately feel an intrinsic sense of belonging.

To encourage participation, we provide a variety of CSR and volunteerism avenues. Staff can contribute through donations via ComChest's SHARE programme and volunteer in various CSR outreach programmes. Through a CSR survey that we ran, we gained meaningful insights into the type of CSR programmes our staff would like to get involved in. We are working with ComChest and selected social & community agencies to identify programmes for our staff to volunteer in. These include mentorship, organising education programmes for disadvantaged youth and others.

Read alsoWhat HR leaders shouldn’t forget when developing a CSR strategy


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