Singapore companies feted for their resilience during the pandemic

A total of 26 listed companies that led the way in corporate governance and sustaining shareholder returns were recognised. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - After a hiatus last year, a special edition of the Singapore Corporate Awards (SCA) returned on Nov 17 (Wednesday) to recognise 26 listed companies that led the way in corporate governance and sustaining shareholder returns during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jointly organised by The Business Times (BT), Singapore Institute of Directors and Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA), the Singapore Corporate Awards 2021 (Special Edition) - The Corporate Excellence and Resilience Awards was created to celebrate companies that manoeuvred the pandemic with good corporate governance practice.

The winners include real estate management service group LHN for its efforts to pivot its property management business to support the storage demands of more e-commerce companies, as well as UOL Group, which focused on getting through the pandemic with zero retrenchments.

Co-chair of the SCA and editor of BT Wong Wei Kong noted the importance of strong leadership during the pandemic, as the best companies were often those that were prepared for the worst.

"It was also important for us to recognise companies that were promoting sustainable practices, making use of technology and developing their people, especially so as to increase their resilience in a time of really exacting business challenges," he said.

Similarly, co-chair of SCA and secretary of the ISCA Kelvin Tan said companies that managed to change their strategies, models and processes would be able to seize opportunities and continue to create value and growth for their stakeholders.

In her keynote address, Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah urged companies to continue practising good corporate governance and stewardship in their remuneration policies, even as strong packages remain a key factor in retaining talent and achieving outcomes.

Ms Indranee, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for National Development, added that companies should take steps to support their employees and promote mental health in their organisations. She noted employees' desire for flexibility in new ways of working post-pandemic and encouraged companies to adopt hybrid models of work.

"Companies which take care of their employees' needs are much more likely to be able to recruit and retain good workers, enjoy higher productivity and morale and become resilient companies," she said.

Of the 26 winners, 10 companies fell into the large-caps category or companies that have a market capitalisation of $1 billion and above, seven companies were in the mid-caps category with market capitalisation of $300 million to less than $1 billion, and nine companies were in the small-caps category with market capitalisation of less than $300 million.

The SCA judging panel adopted the Singapore Governance and Transparency Index, a leading index for assessing corporate governance practices of Singapore-listed companies. Five domains - board responsibilities, rights of shareholders, engagement of stakeholders, accountability and audit, and disclosure and transparency - were considered under the framework.

Tracing its roots back to 1974, the award was previously presented as the Best Annual Report Award to encourage better disclosures in listed companies' annual reports, with the inaugural SCA presented in 2005.

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