Mr Seck Wai Kwong, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Singapore
Exchange Ltd (SGX), spoke on corporate social responsibility (CSR) on April 21, in the
school in the newly launched Dean’s Seminar Series on Sustainable Development.
He is also Chairman of the NBS Graduate Advisory Board.
Professor Gillian Yeo, Interim Dean, said in her welcome that the topic is particularly
important to us as we nurture future business leaders.
Mr Seck said CSR could be broadly defined as the proactive and deliberate inclusion of public interest into corporate decision making, and voluntarily not engaging in
practices that could have a negative public impact.
“CSR is about achieving a “triple bottom line’ of People, Planet and Profit by doing the
right thing in the process,’’ he added.
The goals of CSR are not, and should not be counter to commercial interest, but can
complement each other, Mr Seck said. There were many eminent examples, one of
which is Toyota’s focus on green technology and its fuel-efficient Prius car.
Mr Seck’s talk covered SGX’s own CSR journey, why companies and organizations
should take CSR seriously and finally on what NBS can do to promote CSR.
For SGX, CSR takes on a special dimension as SGX is both the operator and regulator
of Singapore’s listing platform, as well as a listed company.
“This means we always have to play a balanced and multi-faceted role. Our
stakeholders include more than just shareholders and staff. It includes institutions
such as our members and their customers, listed companies and investors; vendors
and regulators, and to some extent, the society at large.”
Mr Seck highlighted SGX’s initiatives like the Bull Charge – a fun run for charity, and
sending out the annual report in a CD – with the number of requests for a hardcopy
annual report down to less than 2% out of a shareholder base o over 30,000, as some of the efforts to promote CSR.
As for why companies and organizations should take CSR seriously, he said among the reasons were that shareholders are interested in CSR, CSR companies give attractive
returns to shareholders, CSR is good for branding, it gives companies freedom to
operate, CSR can create new business opportunities and that it is the right thing to
Mr Seck said that for its part as a business school, NBS can do two big things.
First, it can be a CSR champion within the university community and beyond, even
nationally and internationally.
“Another local university has a Corporate Governance and Financial Reporting Centre.
I’m not aware of any university research centre established in Singapore to examine
the broader CSR/ESG issues. Would NBS take on this mantle and lead the way? This
whole area of CSR provides fertile grounds for academic research and application,’’ he
The second thing NBS can do could be even more impactful as it can impact the
thousands of students who come through its doors every year with a CSR
consciousness that lasts a lifetime.
“Think of the multiplier effect your CSR-conscious graduates will have on the
thousands of companies they join and the families they will have.
“In fact I believe many of our NBS students today are already very socially and
environmentally aware. Our job is to encourage that, reinforce that, and demonstrate
that CSR is something that is not faddish but applicable, relevant and necessary in
the real world of business,’’ Mr Seck added.
His talk was followed by a lively question-and-answer session.