How Company of Good Fellows aid pandemic-hit communities

Oct 07, 2020

Fellows from Johnson & Johnson and Social Collider share their experiences on participating in the Company of Good Fellowship programme and how it has helped in their efforts to do good.

Perhaps the best thing to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic was the sense of camaraderie and urgency to help those who are struggling due to the crisis. For Alice Chiu, Johnson & Johnson’s APAC Employee Engagement Leader, Global Community Impact, the pandemic presented her an opportunity to reconsider the way the firm engages its employees whilst leaving a lasting impact on the community at the same time.

“At Johnson & Johnson, we have had the privilege to shape health and well-being for more than 130 years. We believe in the circle of care. When we support the people who provide care to the most vulnerable, we know that the pressing needs of our communities are met,” she explained.

This year, Johnson & Johnson made a US$50m pledge to support global pandemic relief efforts by helping hard-hit communities through the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. In Singapore, the company donated over S$100,000 of products in-kind and cash to charities to ease the hardships brought about by the crisis.

In her pursuit to strengthen employee engagement both in the company and in the community, Chiu went through the Company of Good Fellowship in 2019. Developed by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), the Company of Good Fellowship is a talent development programme that grooms high-potential business professionals to catalyse change to benefit both business and society. She added that the 4 ‘I’ Framework—Investment, Integration, Institutionalisation, and Impact—that she picked up from the programme, has served as guiding principles on how their initiatives are curated, executed and measured in terms of impact. 

“This framework serves as a good reminder of how our initiatives should go beyond establishing strategic, sustainable, and impactful corporate giving within Johnson & Johnson, but to also engage our stakeholders and partners to amplify the impact and extent of the way we give.”

Another Fellow who was part of the same intake, Russ Neu, Founder and CEO of impact organisations aggregator Social Collider, said his time in the programme helped him clarify between outputs and outcomes, whilst benefiting from the network and community of support that it offered.

Some efforts that Social Collider had undertaken included adopting 75 migrant workers in Tagore Lane and providing them with daily food and necessities, as well as organising a charity walk to raise funds and awareness for Social Health Growth, a charity that helps impoverished families in the Lion City.

Participation in the Company of Good Fellowship programme
Now welcoming applications for its fourth intake, the Company of Good Fellowship empowers corporate leaders to create the change they envision for the business and community. The programme enables Fellows to grow in leadership, systems thinking, and community engagement to drive doing good that is strategic, sustainable and impactful. The Fellowship also provides opportunities for Fellows to build capabilities and ideas on impactful business solutions, whilst leveraging on emerging practices in doing good.

In addition, Fellows will develop skills and knowledge to institutionalise systems and processes that can integrate capabilities of their organisations with the prevailing needs of the community.

Chiu and Neu were attracted to the Company of Good Fellowship because of how it brought like-minded people together and granted them opportunities to explore ideas and initiatives related to corporate social responsibility (CSR). In particular, Chiu was intrigued by the closeness of the Fellows involved in the programme, whilst Neu was fascinated by the takeaways he got from previous Fellows.

“The Fellowship exposed me to the different instruments out there. More importantly, connecting with the practitioners allowed for collaboration post-programme,” Neu said.

“From day one, everyone has been so forthcoming in sharing their CSR best practices, challenges, and opportunities. This network opened my perspectives to understand what meaningful CSR truly means, and shifted the mindset from corporate giving or corporate philanthropy to collective social responsibility,” shared Chiu.

Based on the initiatives Chiu undertook during the pandemic, Johnson & Johnson have managed to raise a total of S$2,300 from a total of 46 orders with HeartGifts Portal, which is targeted at social enterprise beneficiaries and stay-at-home mothers to earn income during the circuit breaker period. In addition, they have also bolstered the business continuity of social enterprise Hush TeaBar and granted their employees some respite from employment uncertainty.

In terms of education, the company conducted a total of 30 sessions where its employees were able to engage, connect and entertain the children with stories and to give them a mental break from the Circuit Breaker period. With this, the company has inspired more than 150 children who have limited access to paid online enrichment lessons to build a stronger interest in learning, Chiu noted, with affirmative feedback provided by parents.

They have also aided 120 students from tertiary institutes, colleges, and universities in obtaining knowledge and tips regarding curriculum vitae (CV) development, interview strategies, and background on current hiring trends in order to strengthen their future employability.

Chiu described the above-mentioned initiatives as a “triple win”, as “beneficiaries and communities are positively impacted; employees gain a positive and fulfilling experience; and Johnson & Johnson benefits from employees who feel more fulfilled at work having contributed to a meaningful cause.”

Likewise, for Neu, Company of Good Fellowship helped him exemplify that despite the current dire circumstances, they can still contribute their part to help the underserved.

“The activities that we carried out allowed my staff and the Social Collider community to understand this. Hopefully, this will inspire more people.”

Company of Good Fellowship is a talent development programme that grooms high-potential business professionals to catalyse change to benefit both business and society. The Fellowship seeks to develop a community of leaders who will strengthen the ecosystem for doing good in Singapore. Applications for its next intake are now open. Find out more at www.companyofgood.sg/fellowship.
  

About

Company of Good connects organisations with a community of like-minded corporate givers to build capabilities in integrating doing good with business strategy and goals. Organisations can sign up for initiatives such as the Company of Good Fellowship and Champions of Good, a national platform recognising leadership and partnerships in doing good for the community.

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