Companies need mindset change to be good stewards of future

Buildings in Singapore's central business district.
Buildings in Singapore's central business district.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Recently, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said that businesses should invest in innovation, people and the community to be good stewards of the future (Firms urged to innovate, invest in workers and community, June 5).

Mindset and system changes are critical for businesses to be good stewards of our future.

Without a doubt, we are now living in the best of times and the worst of times, and the traditional mindset of keeping "doing well" and "doing good" mutually exclusive will not suffice.

Instead, companies must embed into their DNA that doing good is not just the good thing to do, but also the right thing to do. They must also rethink the notion of corporate social responsibility as a way of giving back to society, and use it as a strategy for creating sustainable values with the community.

Doing well by doing good is a win-win model, but it requires all stakeholders to come together to create it.

To begin with, shareholders need to recognise the long-term value of going beyond the conventional triple bottom line and, instead, pursuing the quadruple bottom line. The fourth bottom line, called purpose, is often expressed as spirituality or culture.

Customers can play their part by exercising their choice to support businesses that are socially responsible. This will then give companies the flexibility to implement the necessary system changes to achieve the desired outcome for a sustainable future.

Companies must embed into their DNA that doing good is not just the good thing to do, but also the right thing to do. They must also rethink the notion of corporate social responsibility as a way of giving back to society, and use it as a strategy for creating sustainable values with the community.

Global tensions are rising and the international order is in a state of flux.

As a small nation, Singapore has limited leverage to change the global outcome, but we can stay together as a united people to adapt and thrive in any condition.

Thanks to technological advances, we have a unique opportunity to build a future that transcends our limitations.

Andy Sim Ngee Ho

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2019, with the headline 'Companies need mindset change to be good stewards of future'. Print Edition | Subscribe