How doing good gives a shine to your company amid COVID-19

The number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Singapore, and the list of essential services continues to be trimmed down to only the most basic living needs.

While there has justifiably been much emphasis on the F&B businesses facing peril and our frontline healthcare workers, one essential service has been working tirelessly away from the spotlight, as they always have: cleaning and sanitation. The sector has played a critical yet underappreciated role in helping to keep the number of cases down by minimising the risk of community spread.

A company at the forefront of this is Spic & Span, a Champion of Good in 2017 and 2018. Armed with their proprietary long-lasting disinfectant Speco, Spic & Span is a social enterprise that provide marginalised Singaporeans with stable jobs and career progression. While other companies may capitalise on the heightened states of anxiety surrounding hygiene as an opportunity for greater profits, Spic & Span began offering complimentary protective disinfection services to non-profit organisations and charities, even adding local SMEs (including mom-and-pop stores, F&B outlets and fellow social enterprises) to the list later on.

There’s a challenge, however: even when offered without charge, these services are still tied to expenses that Spic & Span has to bear. As part of Collaborate for Good—an initiative by National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre’s Company of Good to facilitate collaborations among companies to create greater social impact during the COVID-19 pandemic—Spic & Span made an open call to the corporate community for sponsors that could cover a portion of the costs of cleaning for the non-profit organisations and charities. Tate & Lyle answered the call.

Tate & Lyle is a global supplier of food and beverage ingredients to industrial markets.

Through the donations made by Tate & Lyle, Spic & Span will be able to provide 25,000sqm worth disinfection services to the vulnerable groups who are among the worst affected by the crisis.

What led to this collaboration? Company of Good spoke with Benjamin Chua, Founder of Spic & Span, and Harry Boot, President Asia Pacific, Food & Beverage Solution at Tate & Lyle.

Company of Good: Why did your company choose to do good during the COVID-19 crisis? What inspired you to do so?

Benjamin Chua: We are a social enterprise that has a core mission to do good, be it during normal times or a crisis. I believe that making a difference is more fulfilling than just making profits. While we focus on our enterprise needs, we have to prioritise ensuring that our business continues to do good as well. This COVID-19 crisis has validated our true north star that we have to continue doing good when others require help.

Harry Boot: We’ve been in business for more than 160 years and we’re proud to celebrate a heritage that has seen us step up and to do what we can in our home communities in prosperous and in challenging times.

COG: What benefits has your company identified from the initiative so far?

Benjamin: We realised that there are many companies looking to band together to help one another tide through COVID-19, and that the do-good ecosystem is larger than we expected, so to find more companies that are aligned with our mission is a pleasant surprise.

The reputation that we have established in the corporate community for doing good has helped us significantly in the forging of new business relationships, as companies want to do business with ethical and trustworthy partners.

Harry: Through our Tate & Lyle in the Community programme, we focus on building relationships with partners whose work help us to live our purpose of Improving Lives for Generations. We’re looking forward to being part of positive change through the Company of Good initiative across the coming year.

COG: What challenges did you face in doing good during the COVID-19 crisis?

Benjamin: We have had to run our business, survive and yet continue to do good. Operationally, this took a toll on us, but the fact that we are doing something bigger than ourselves helped to rally our team to push on.

Harry: Health and safety has always been our number one priority. We continue to focus on ensuring we maintain rigorous safety standards to support our people.

Like others, we’re practicing social distancing and are complying with all recommended safety best practices during these times.

Since many service opportunities focus on personal connection, the current safety guidelines can make volunteerism more challenging, but we’ll keep working with our partners to find appropriate ways through which we can do our part to keep goodness going.

COG: Why should companies do good when their own business may be at stake?

Benjamin: We will all get through it one way or another. There are two ways to look at it: you can either collaborate, innovate and help one another, or have a “me-first” mentality. At the end of the day, the stakeholders across the supply chain will form an image of what your company culture is like. I believe having a better reputation will be what matters in the long run.

Harry: In unprecedented times like these, it takes full cooperation and collaboration from every community partner to recover and rebuild. We believe it is our responsibility as a corporate citizen to stay committed and involved across times of need.

COG: What advice would you give to other companies for doing good during this period?

Benjamin: Stay safe and give strategically. Figure out what it is that the beneficiaries or partners require. Work on deepening relationships rather than just giving transactionally for publicity.

Harry: We’re keeping closely connected with our charitable partners who know us best. It’s through these regular conversations that we’re able to share ideas, think creatively and align resources to maximize impact and solve areas of greatest need most responsively. 

COG: How can companies looking to do good amid the COVID-19 situation get started?

Benjamin: Look for others who are interested in doing good. No one can or should start alone. A good place to start would be with the Company of Good network!

Harry: Do your research on partners, areas of service and consider how their work ties back to your business. Then, start with just one organisation or project and invite your teams to put their hearts into it.

If you do not know where or how to get started, SGUnited is a wonderful resource. Check them out!

If your company would like to donate to Spic & Span’s cause, support other initiatives, or start one of your own, please visit the Collaborate for Good page.

(Editor's Note: The article was written by Garrick Lee; original article here. Reposted with permission.)  

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