Today, more companies are establishing a sound corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy.
CSR is when a company operates in a sustainable and ethical manner with consideration for its community, environment, and human and animal rights.
Why is CSR important? A company operating along the lines of “only shareholder returns count” is bound to be left behind in this day and age where consumers are more aware and discerning of seeking products and services from a company that operates ethically.
According to the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study, 91% of global consumers expect companies to do more than make a profit. They also have to operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues. Meanwhile, 84% say they would seek out responsible products whenever possible and 90% would boycott a company if they learned of irresponsible or deceptive business practices.
In Malaysia, global beauty brands have established noteworthy CSR programmes that positively impact the community and environment, from providing access to clean water to underprivileged communities, fighting against avoidable blindness to supporting wildlife conservation.
Access to clean water
Laneige has been in Malaysia since 1994 and its CSR initiative is the Laneige Waterful Sharing Campaign, which provides clean water access to underprivileged communities in Malaysia.
A global initiative that originated from the brand’s headquarters in South Korea, the campaign was initiated in Malaysia in 2014.
This cause was chosen as Laneige is a business that aims to support women through their skincare journey, as well as the belief that all women should have an equal right to clean water.
“Each year, we strive to contribute to a bigger cause and we work with Global Peace Foundation (GPF) to identify more communities that are in need of help with their water issues, ” says Cheng Mun Teng, marketing manager for Laneige Malaysia.
“This campaign helps us stay humble and realise the need to address issues that the underprivileged communities go through, ” Cheng adds.
During the months of June and July, the Laneige Water Bank Avenue was set up in various locations where customers purchased the Laneige Water Bank skincare product. Then RM10 from the sale of each product was channelled to the funds that went into helping underprivileged communities with their water issues.
“This year, GPF identified five villages namely Kampung Gayung, Kampung Ulu Belat, Kampung Cenodong, Kampung Terubing and Kampung Teraling consisting of 81 houses and 481 villagers. Through the Laneige Waterful Sharing Campaign we raised RM60,000 to benefit these villagers through the building of gravity feed systems, installation of water pumps and water pipes that are linked directly to their homes, ” says Cheng.
“The Waterful Sharing Campaign is part of Laneige’s initiative in empowering women. By giving women in underprivileged communities access to clean water, they don’t have to spend precious hours fetching water. This provides them the opportunity of time to explore their potential in other areas for a more fulfilling life.”
Next year, Cheng says the Waterful Sharing Campaign will be rolled out in May and June.
Wildlife conservation and protection
The Body Shop’s CSR projects involve funding the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MyCat), as well as the funding of Bio-bridges and female empowerment campaigns in collaboration with Women’s Aid Organisation.
“We don’t see CSR as a responsibility. It is who we are and our values. We have been funding Wildlife Conservation Society and Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers to protect the Malayan Tigers’ habitat.
“Then, in the last two years we realised that poaching was the more urgent problem and the Malayan Tiger is about to go extinct in the wild (there are currently fewer than 200 animals surviving in the forests of Peninsular Malaysia).
“So, in April together with WCS and Mycat, we started an #only200tigersleft petition, calling upon our government to send 2,000 army personnel to patrol Peninsular Malaysia forests,” says Datin Mina Cheah-Foong, managing director of The Body Shop Malaysia.
The brand had its customers and Malaysians involved by signing the petition in-store or online. The end result was 121,058 signatures which were handed over at Parliament on July 16 to Dr Xavier Jayakumar, Water, Land and Natural Resources minister.
“Our voices were heard and the police are currently assisting to patrol our forests to protect the Malayan tigers. Just recently, 10 poachers were detained following an operation by the police to comb the jungles in search of poachers, ” she points out.
Supporting the wildlife and environment has always been The Body Shop Malaysia’s identity.
“We chose this cause because landscapes where tigers live overlap with globally important ecosystems. These areas, which are rich in wildlife and plant life, harbour a wealth of important goods and services. Healthy tiger habitats help mitigate climate change, provide fresh water to animals and people, reduce the impact of natural disasters and improve the health of local people. Many well-documented research proves that when an apex predator thrives, the entire jungle thrives and hence, the ecosystem thrives, ” Cheah-Foong explains.
She adds that The Body Shop also funds natural corridors (Bio-bridges) to reconnect damaged habitats in the forests of Peninsular Malaysia and they have contributed RM400,000 a year since 2016 for the Bio-bridges.
“We hope the public will continue supporting our projects as at the end of the day, it will be a benefit to everyone and our future generation. If not, we encourage everyone to do their part in their own way to help save and protect our environment.”
Preventing avoidable blindness
“The L’Occitane Foundation was set up in France in 2006 for the group’s philanthropy priority to fight against avoidable blindness by working closely with all subsidiary and distributor companies, including Malaysia, ” says Clarance Boo, PR manager for L’Occitane Malaysia.
Boo says L’Occitane Malaysia launched its first charity fundraising for local blindness prevention projects in 2009.
They work closely with the Malaysia Association for the Blind (MAB), Malaysian Foundation For The Blind (MFB), St Nicholas’ Home Penang, Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital and SPEC Truck to improve the lives of visually impaired Malaysians.
“Over the years, L’Occitane Malaysia and the L’Occitane Foundation team have raised and channelled more than RM714,000 to many different sight-saving projects that have equipped the visually impaired with educational tools to improve their daily living skills to help them live as normally as possible.
“To date, we have helped more than 34,000 Malaysians in getting better eye care services, ” Boo says.
Every year, L’Occitane Malaysia organises different initiatives in fighting avoidable blindness.
These initiatives include fundraising for sight-saving projects or creating awareness of the importance of proper eye care to avoid preventable blindness.
“Dining in the Dark is a signature awareness programme we hold annually for celebrity and media friends to spread awareness. The reason we have chosen Dining in the Dark restaurant is also to help visually impaired or blind servers to have a job to sustain their daily living while letting normal sighted people learn the importance of eyesight through dining in the dark experiences, ” Boo explains.
In conjunction with International World Sight Day in October, L’Occitane Malaysia held a yearly fundraising campaign where 100% of the proceeds raised were channeled to different sight-saving projects.
“We are currently raising funds with the Sight Fighter Kit sold at RM60 in our stores nationwide and online.
“One of the confirmed projects is the procurement of two slit lamp machines for Hospital Sultanah in Johor Baru for eye screenings and blindness diagnosis, and we have more projects to come, ” Boo says.
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