Awarded the Hong Kong Council of Social Service's caring company logo for six consecutive years, Bank Consortium Trust Company Limited (BCT) has always been at the forefront of community campaigns.
Lau Ka-shi, BCT's managing director and CEO, believes that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a cornerstone of any successful business. "CSR must constitute a 'mainstream' value of a company and not be sidelined. We should therefore use our resources for a good cause and help people of lesser means," Ms Lau stresses.
She remarks that everyone in the company has a role to play. "As a senior executive, I adhere to my role as a leader and a catalyst. One part of my responsibility involves upholding a caring culture and translating it into company policies, the other involves my serving on various public and statutory bodies."
Currently a member of the Hospital Authority Board, the Community Investment & Inclusion Fund Committee and Women's Commission, Ms Lau also serves on the committees of various organisations like the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority and the Securities and Futures Commission.
A dedicated advocate of corporate governance, Ms Lau's leadership was recently acknowledged with the "Director of the Year Award 2008 ¡X Private Company, Executive Directors" conferred jointly by the Hong Kong Institute of Directors, Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, the Securities and Futures Commission and the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited.
"The award is a testimony to BCT's standing in the business sector, as a top five and the only local MPF provider in Hong Kong. It also signifies team excellence and celebrates female leadership in a male dominated business environment," Ms Lau says. "With recognition we know there is more we can do as corporate citizens to contribute to Hong Kong society."
Ms Lau concedes that she will continue to draw on her executive skills and wide network to influence social policies, while entrusting the BCT CSR committee with the planning and promotion of CSR initiatives.
The BCT CSR committee's responsibilities encompass everything from budgeting and planning to staff communication and event management. It comprises taskforces for youth service, elderly care, staff and family care, environmental protection and fundraising. "Their dedication drives us towards a better corporate culture, advocating all-round personal development as well as social attachment," Ms Lau adds.
With a firm belief that engaging young people in community and volunteer work will help them build character, broaden their horizons and find their bearings in society, BCT makes a point to involve the family members of staff in such events. "If we get them to make that essential first step, everything else will fall into place," Ms Lau says.
She emphasises also that the value of CSR cannot be measured in monetary terms. "Every year our CSR committee proposes an annual budget," she says. "Whatever the financial situation, we don't hold back on CSR events, because it's well worth the effort ¡Xi t boosts team spirit, promotes responsibility and a caring culture, and simultaneously helps us learn to appreciate people, the environment, life and work. No corporate training programmes can achieve this as effectively."
In sync with internal guidelines for CSR, BCT adopts a flexible approach to its human resources management. "Supervisors encourage participation by helping their staff make alternative job arrangements should they need to take time off work for certain CSR activities," Ms Lau adds. "We also acknowledge CSR involvements by furnishing enthusiastic staff with compensation leave, certificates and gifts."
A responsible employer, BCT goes to great lengths to ensure staff receive the care and attention they deserve. To this end, the CSR committee's staff and family care group arranges a variety of activities to help staff maintain a balanced lifestyle.
To help staff let off some steam, for instance, the company enlists the service of a NGO and launched an employee care programme as part of a stress management initiative. Staff who experience stress or face problems in their lives are encouraged to confide in a counsellor via a service hotline.
In a move to build teams and cultivate friendships, the taskforce organises an array of staff focused workshops where members of staff share common interests such as knitting, helping to better acquaint staff across different departments and in turn contributing to a pleasant working environment.
Among the first companies to offer paternity leave, BCT prides itself on its family-friendly policies. For instance, staff with children are given priority when applying for annual leave. There are even special workshops where experts are invited to offer tips on handling toddlers aged between two and four.
Besides these, the company regularly organises Open Days for staff and their families who are invited back to the office on Saturdays for some fun time together. "We want staff to have a sense of pride in their jobs and the company they work for. After all, our business is all about people and we must always take good care of our own first and foremost," Ms Lau concludes.