Money Moves

Human capital at the heart of CSR strategy

by Charles Mak

Kathy Cheung
director, country corporate affairs
Citi Hong Kong
Photo: Edde Ngan

Financier moves closer to global goals through bespoke corporate social responsibility policies and practice

Jobseekers nowadays tend to examine the CSR engagement of their prospective employers. This is the experience of Citi, according to Kathy Cheung, director, country corporate affairs, Citi Hong Kong. "Young people are particularly attuned to world issues and social problems. Companies in turn, regardless of size and business nature, are pulling out the stops to plough their rich resources back into society."

CSR is a mindset, so the hard part is to inculcate an across-the-board culture where employees acknowledge and appreciate volunteerism. To do this, Ms Cheung says a clear and consistent message is vital. "First things first, management staff must put policy into practice and lead by example," she remarks. Citi organises an industry-unique "A Heart to Share" programme every year since 2000, the bank's first event in Hong Kong to recognise and celebrate volunteerism among the Citi workforce.

The bank's Citi Community Club now boasts a 60-staff committee, managing an annual CSR scheduled peppered with more than 100 initiatives of varying scopes and scales. This includes a colourful array of Citi-funded financial education programmes, which are characterised by a much more substantial commitment in terms of length of time and are chiefly developed and delivered by Citi staff to Hong Kong's primary, secondary and tertiary students, as well as members of the general public. "We find it relatively easy to go to the students than getting working adults to come to our seminars and workshops," says Ms Cheung who is quick to point out: "But, we make a point to keep our customers abreast with market updates in order to increase their awareness of investment trends and volatility."

More eggs in the basket

  • Secondary schools may apply for funding from the CitiSuccess Fund for finance related extramural activities
  • A recent publication Use Credit Wisely Guide offers the general public advice on using credit services and products
  • A feasibility study for possible microfinancing programmes is currently underway in Hong Kong

More than 12,000 secondary school students this year are logging on and become stock market players in the Citi Youth Investment Education Programme—an online equity trading game developed by Citi in partnership with the Hong Kong Economic Times and supported by the Education Bureau. The game challenges students' analytical skills, team spirit, sense of responsibility and decision-making abilities over a three-month virtual trading period.

A 15-module Citibank University Banking Course every year takes in about 50 second- and third-year university students for a series of banking stints with the outstanding few receiving internship opportunities at one of Citibank's Asia Pacific offices in the summer or a study trip to Citi's headquarters in New York. Courses are taught by Citi department heads, and the full curriculum includes an introduction to investment products, investment advisory, compliance, risk management, treasury, and credits.

Secondary school students fall into "family" groups and go through all stages of life in a large-scale interactive Smart Kid Financial Education Experiential Program day camp from which they learn family values, life planning, responsibility, risks and gain a perspective on life via creating a future for the family.

Shengman Zhang (far right), Citi Country Officer, hands over awards to students of University of Western Ontario—the winning team of Citi International Case Competition 2010. Inaugurated in 2003, the competition last year attracted enrolment from 21 universities worldwide.

Launched in 2005, the Agent Penny programme is designed to impart healthy financial concepts and value to primary school children. The programme includes a comic book series, schoolteacher workshops and an interactive drama produced by local theatre group Jumbo Kids. Over the years, more than 45,000 copies of the comic have been distributed to primary school students in Hong Kong.

Citi's fifth annual Global Community Day last October saw more than 2,300 Citi Hong Kong staff and their family and friends work together with some 200 of the bank's SME clients for a good cause. More than 45,000 Citi employers across 75 countries contributed to the success of 950 charitable events on the same day.

Shengman Zhang (far left), Citi country officer, Paul Tang (third from right), permanent secretary for Labour & Welfare, Labour and Welfare Bureau, and Billy Leung (second from right) chairman, Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, with participants of Citi's Hope Development Accounts programme which was launched in 2008 to encourage savings among residents in Tin Shui Wai and now those of Lei Tung Estate in Ap Lei Chau and across Tuen Mun district.

Photos: Courtesy of Citi

Taken from Career Times 15 April 2011, A8

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