Crafting an Impactful CSR Programme

Tracing Katoen Natie Singapore (Jurong)’s CSR journey which is on its third run.

To say that Katoen Natie Singapore (Jurong) has come a long way in its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) journey is an understatement.

The company’s Head of Human Resource Ms Janet Lim shared that before June 2021, the logistics and engineering firm had no idea how to start a CSR programme. However, today, the company has not only collaborated twice with Food Bank Singapore, its nominated beneficiary, but it is also planning the third run of its CSR programme.

Katoen Natie Singapore is also exploring new ways that the company can give back to society.

Ms Lim shared that attending the CSR in Action: Business Impact Training (BIT) in June 2021, a programme supported by the SBF Foundation in partnership with the SBF Business Institute, was a game-changer for the company.

Held across five half-day sessions, the programme provided a range of frameworks which guided participants on crafting a sustainable CSR programme.

For instance, one of the featured frameworks was empathy mapping, which involved putting themselves in somebody else’s shoes to understand how they live their lives.

“I have been wanting to create a CSR programme for Katoen Natie Singapore,” Ms Lim shared. “Attending the BIT gave me a better understanding of where and how to start, and that it was ok to begin on a very small scale.”

Her colleague Mr Michael Tan, lead manager of the commercial division, joined her at the training.

“That really caught my attention because it made me understand more fully what he was going through,” revealed Mr Tan, on a guest who shared his daily experiences at the event.

Back at the office, the pair decided to start by working with Food Bank, after Ms Lim heard from a friend that the organisation was looking for help.

“When we met with the person in charge, we learnt that there are many families in Singapore that survive on only one meal a day,” she recalled.

They decided to rally their colleagues to do one round of fundraising to purchase food packs and deliver them to the underprivileged who were living in rented public housing flats.

Mr Tan leveraged on the empathy mapping technique he learnt during the BIT. They engaged their colleagues individually, using a bottom-up approach, by talking to each of them about their plans, appealing to them through sharing food insecurity-related statistics in Singapore.

“At the training, we were advised not to use the word ‘committee’ because it seems very hierarchical, and to use the word ‘community’ instead,” Ms Lim added.

The first two runs were done in July and December 2021, where groups of five staff gave out 50 food packs in Marsiling and 75 food packs in Ang Mo Kio respectively.

Katoen Natie Singapore (Jurong)’s CEO Mr Koen Cardon and COO Mr Simon Tan joined in too. Mr Cardon even brought his daughter along for the distribution of food packs. A third run is being planned for the second quarter of the year.

Following each run, Ms Lim highlighted these activities and efforts through the internal staff portal, including sharing photos of staff at the sessions. This then inspired more staff to step forward to give their time and money to this initiative.

Mr Tan was surprised by the level of enthusiasm of their colleagues towards this project.  “What I realised was that there are a lot of people who are willing to help – they just needed to be ‘pushed’ a little bit. After that, they thanked us for initiating it, sharing that they have always wanted to do something for the underprivileged, but did not know where to start.”

Looking back now, Ms Lim was very glad she signed up for the BIT. She said, “It helped assure me that I did not need to gather a lot of people, or have specific skill sets or even know everything to get started. That is important.”

Mr Tan agreed, pointing out that contrary to expectations, they were taught that there is no need to start with a big bang.

Sharing one final tip, Ms Lim explained that it is important for firms who attend the session to first cultivate a giving culture in their organisation. “This way, all the questions on the ‘how’ will be answered – sort of like being given a roadmap.”

The CSR in Action: Business Impact Training (BIT) is a fully subsidised programme by the Singapore Business Federation Foundation (SBFF) and jointly organised with the SBF Business Institute (SBI). It was designed to promote and enhance the adoption of CSR and encourage corporate giving in Singapore. Topics covered include frameworks and guidelines on how to integrate CSR into corporate strategy, with inputs given by SMEs on how to build an inclusive society. To date, over 450 participants including Managing Directors, Heads of Marketing, Human Resource Managers and administrative executives from over 300 companies comprising 250 SMEs and 50 large enterprises have attended the programme. Interested to find out more? Click here