Has Uob Implemented Csr and Can More Be Done?

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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to a corporation’s accountability for its actions towards its people, the communities it interacts with, and the environment it is situated in. By implementing CSR as part of its corporate strategy, a firm seeks to align its economic interests with its legal and social responsibilities to its employees, its community and the rest of its stakeholders. In Singapore, though CSR is still a relatively new notion when compared to the Western countries, it is increasingly shaping up to be a critical corporate strategy that is synonymous with a firm’s reliability and success. This is because Singapore is situated in the rapidly-developing Asia-Pacific region where more and more businesses are inevitably drawn to the trend of globalisation. Now, firms operating in this region have to compete on a global stage for economic viability. They are no longer bound by local norms and regulations, but are instead subjected to the perspectives and standards of the vastly mature international community. Firms have to adapt responsibly to global concerns like climate change, human rights issues and the evolving financial landscape. Furthermore, in today’s economic climate, following the many scandals and irresponsible practices that have contributed to the financial meltdown of 2008/09, it is especially pertinent for firms, especially financial institutions, to implement sound CSR practices and be responsible in dealing with their stakeholders. After all, the essence of CSR is instilling “trust” – trust in a company to make the responsible decisions. This ultimately enhances brand value and reputation. United Overseas Bank (UOB) is one such institution. A leading bank in Asia with a network of over 500 offices in 18 countries and territories in Asia Pacific, Western Europe and North America, UOB provides a diverse range of financial services including personal financial services, investment banking and asset management, amongst many others. In 2008, the total Customer Deposits at UOB amounted to S$118,171 million, a 10.5% increase from 2007. UOB is rated amongst the world’s top banks by Moody’s Investors Services, receiving B for financial strength, and Aa1 and Prime-1 for long-term and short-term bank deposits respectively. More importantly, in accordance with its mission to be a premier bank in the Asia-Pacific region, UOB has proactively integrated CSR into its corporate strategy, largely focusing on children, education and the arts. For all its efforts in providing excellence, it received key awards in 2008 like ‘Best Domestic Bank in Singapore’ by Asiamoney, ‘The Best of Asia – UOB Group’ by Corporate Governance Asia, ‘Distinguished Patron of the Arts Award’ by National Arts Council and ‘Best Domestic Bank (Singapore)’ by The Asset. There is no doubt that UOB has implemented CSR. However, given the extent of the influences it has as a leading regional bank, the issue that seeks clarification is whether enough is being done to balance its huge corporate power with its social responsibility. For all the communities in which UOB has a presence, is there sufficient effort being put into building stakeholder partnerships, uncovering opportunities in serving society and facilitating the integration between financial and social performance? Has UOB sufficiently satisfied all the principles of corporate citizenship? What more can UOB do? In analyzing these, the most pressing issues that CSR aims to tackle will first have to be identified. Once identified, the CSR strategies of UOB can then be put to the test to find out if these strategies are succinctly and sufficiently tackling the issues raised. To add depth to the analysis, the CSR strategies of Citigroup will also be put to the test. Citigroup has more than 200million customer accounts in over 100 countries. It has extensive presence in the Asia-Pacific region and undertakes a very wide range of CSR initiatives to help the communities it...
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