6 September 2008

Young minds intrigued by Corporate Social Responsibility

Students of Sunway University College successfully hosted the Undergraduate Business Student Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) attended by over 400 students from various institutions. This first-of-its-kind conference was co-organised by students and opened to all their undergraduate peers studying in universities in Malaysia.

The conference with the theme ‘Business with a Heart’, attracted students from local, private and public universities who were shown valuable insights into CSR as a sustainable business practice in Malaysia. The student initiative was jointly organised by Sunway University College and their business partners CPA Australia and KPMG in Malaysia, who also presented their best practices at the conference.

“Through this conference, we hope to infuse the CSR mindset amongst undergraduate students by profiling organisations that do not only practice profit maximization, but also behave responsibly towards their community at large, “says Dr. Foo Yin Fah, Head of the Australian University Programme at Sunway University College.

The day was filled with interesting presentations on CSR initiatives by the Sunway Group, The Body Shop, HSBC, DiGi, WWF, Malaysia Nature Society and Environmental Protection Society of Malaysia. The crowd was also entertained by various drama, dance and choral speaking performances, and drawing the day to a close was a special forum entitled “Environmental Conservation : Can Corporations Do More?”, jointly chaired by Dr. Foo along with WWF, Malaysia Nature Society and the Environment Protection Society of Malaysia.

Through their long-standing partnership in advancing business education, Sunway University College, CPA Australia and KPMG in Malaysia have observed that CSR concepts are incorporated in theory to differing degrees in university business curricula. Through the conference, they hope to inspire students to start a CSR movement of their own, by exposing them to actual best practices of well-recognised corporations and organisations in Malaysia.

All three organisations are strong advocates of CSR integration into their respective businesses.

Sunway University College runs on a non-profit basis and is completely funded by the Sunway Education Trust Fund, setup by the Sunway Group in line with their CSR objective of developing human capital through excellence in education. To date, the trust has also awarded up to RM40 million in scholarships since its inception in 1997. In the field of accounting and finance, CPA Australia’s CSR strategy leverages on their craft; from influencing the development of sustainable regulatory policies to assisting corporations in responding effectively to ever-growing CSR demands from shareholders, governments and society. As a leading audit, tax and advisory services firm, KPMG conducts itself as a responsible corporate citizen to clients and colleagues, and is also a positive force in the community through a myriad of activities such as the KPMG Community Day, reef conservation and its Education Trust Fund which assists needy students to pursue their studies in Accounting and Finance.

Dr. Foo adds, “We are truly excited about the good turnout and to see this initiative materialise. We realise that we are at the point of promoting awareness, since CSR education and practice is still nascent in the minds of our young. However, we are confident that this is a great start in inspiring students to become true advocates for community well-being, who will then become the next generation of CSR leaders of our future corporate Malaysia. We hope to sustain this conference and make it the interlude for all students to undergo as part of an education in CSR”

The one-day conference helped to raise RM5,580 in donations and student participation fees, which was donated to the SMK Bandar Sunway’s special class for students with learning disabilities.