Against the backdrop of rapidly emerging new technologies, less support for globalisation and Asia's growing economic and strategic weight, business leaders must invest in innovation, workers and the community to move forward.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat made the point when he addressed 200 business leaders at the annual leadership forum, Stewardship Asia Roundtable, at the Shangri-La Hotel yesterday.
He urged them to be "quick to innovate, in order to stay relevant and competitive" because how supply chains work will likely change as technology advances, and the global economic and strategic weight shifts towards Asia.
"Leaders need to take ownership by charting a path of future growth through innovation, and energising their teams around this," he said.
He added that companies should learn about new developments in technology and see how these can be integrated into existing busi-ness processes.
Innovation also helps companies create new products and services, which leads to the re-design of jobs and work processes, he said. This, in turn, helps workers earn higher wages from better jobs.
"The relationship between companies and workers is synergistic - more competitive companies provide better jobs, and highly skilled workers make companies stronger, more productive and more competitive," Mr Heng said.
The relationship between companies and workers is synergistic - more competitive companies provide better jobs, and highly skilled workers make companies stronger, more productive and more competitive.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER HENG SWEE KEAT
GIVING BACK TO COMMUNITY
Companies should not just do well, they should also do good.
MR HENG, on contributing to the community and taking care of the needy and vulnerable.
Another area to invest in is people, because "the long-term growth of our businesses is only as good as the capabilities and skills of our workers", said Mr Heng.
Programmes such as SkillsFuture and Professional Conversion Programmes have helped workers pick up new and relevant skills to be used in an increasingly technology-intensive work environment.
Companies should also look after the health, safety and welfare of their workers, Mr Heng said, adding that they can adopt progressive employment best practices and promote fairer workplaces.
In addition, firms should contribute to the community and take care of the needy and vulnerable.
"Companies should not just do well, they should also do good," Mr Heng said, adding that firms can offer their expertise and resources, and mobilise employers to create sustainable corporate social responsibility initiatives. Businesses can also work together with non-profit organisations to achieve more impactful outcomes.
To complement these efforts, the Government has several initiatives, such as a scheme to give companies a 250 per cent tax deduction on qualifying expenditure when they send employees to volunteer at qualifying charities.
Mr Heng said stewardship is about "engaged, responsible and meaningful value creation over the long term". He added that "this focus on the long term is important, especially when change is happening ever faster. Equally, the focus is not just on the company itself, but the benefit to the larger community."
The roundtable also saw panel discussions and sharing sessions involving business leaders such as Grab co-founder Tan Hooi Ling and Singtel chairman Simon Israel.