The importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in a time of crisis

During the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, the importance of corporations’ community support became crystal clear. As a globe, we faced an unprecedented level of disruption. In a democratic society, it falls on all of us to do our part to attend to the needs of the vulnerable and disadvantaged. The onus is thus on profitable enterprises to attend to the importance of community support as part of their overall corporate affairs practices.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an essential part of any business, as corporations do not exist outside of society. This is obvious during a crisis like covid-19: a global pandemic can threaten the very foundation of societies everywhere. A period like this calls for companies to be more engaged with their CSR, rather than less so.

Beyond the humane reasons for engaging in CSR, there is also a key practical element. In the age of social media and increased public scrutiny, a corporation can demonstrate its commitment to its brand identity and community spirit through active community efforts.

What have some companies done to escalate their CSR while remaining profitable? Here is one example from an EdTech company in Singapore, Tenopy, an online live tutoring platform leveraging on AI, which has paved the way.

When Covid-19 struck in early 2020, universities and schools around the world found themselves suddenly shifting to digital platforms, a scenario many had never conceived of before. This jarring shift presented a challenge to underprivileged families and children, who may lack access to the tools and support needed to adapt to digital education.

Children are the future pillars of our society. Investing in education and equipping children with knowledge is essential. Many education enterprises globally have recognized this and ramped up their CSR efforts in response.

Understanding the severity of the situation, Tenopy did its part to support those most affected in Singapore. In June 2020, Tenopy inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with AMKFSC Community Services Ltd. (AMKFSC) to provide free tutoring services to children from underprivileged backgrounds.

Not only does Tenopy provide its regular live online classrooms to these children, it has provided free recorded lessons and homework materials to online tutors from AMKFSC so that they can conduct professional tutoring for affected students.

In its outreach efforts, Tenopy has shown its commitment to its mission statement, that of making high quality education accessible to all. By working together with a reputable NPO, Tenopy has boosted its company’s reputation and internal company spirit. It has demonstrated the sincerity of its goals to investors and stakeholders. Working together with a trustworthy charity or NPO is a strong signal that demonstrates a firm’s commitment to its brand mission statement.

CSR is also a key element of crisis management. For example, Tenopy’s flexible and timely response to Covid-19 shows that the company had laid out sufficient groundwork to deal with potential crises in the community. Shockwaves like Covid-19 only accelerate rising trends like digital education, which Tenopy has paid close attention to for years now. Here, there are two valuable lessons to remain conscious of:

  • Remain flexible and adaptable
  • Play close attention to current trends and remain up-to-date

Companies that successfully manage to perform excellent CSR can thus also be seen as thought-leaders in crisis management.

Corporate affairs will continue to become more important over the next five years as consumers demand increased accountability from companies. With the digital transformation looming large, corporates need to adopt a bottom up approach and take these opinions into account when developing outreach efforts. Corporate affairs will thus be ever-increasingly defined by a more consultative approach and a stronger community orientation.

 

Helena Ma brings with her a wealth of experience and a truly cosmopolitan perspective, having lived and worked in Shanghai, China; Gothenburg, Sweden; and London, UK. Her stints in Europe and China has armed Helena with a potent blend of ancient Chinese wisdom and contemporary Western knowledge which she incorporates into business management and client project