Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a prominent feature of modern-day business. The concept refers to business practices that involve participating in initiatives that benefit society and the environment at large. Companies throughout the world now believe that such initiatives not only promote social welfare but also help to create a happier workforce, with the added advantage of bolstering the bottom-line.
At Engel and Voelkers, Hong Kong, we are deeply committed to Corporate Responsibility initiatives. In our endeavor to strengthen our ties to the local Hong Kong community, we have concentrated our CSR efforts towards active engagement of the local community by way of our enthusiastic partnership with the well-known, homegrown non-profit organization, Project Share.
Project Share was born as a result of award-winning filmmaker and author, Duncan Jepson’s hard-hitting documentary- A Devil’s Gift. The film highlights the growing income inequality and widening social divide in Asia’s World City, which in recent years has been transformed from a center of manufacturing into a leading global hub for service-based industries.
As this transformation has taken place, some sections of the community have risen to the forefront while others have languished.
This scenario was starkly evident to Jepson as he filmed his documentary around Hong Kong and came into contact with youth from less affluent, remote areas of the New Territories. The young folk in these areas seemed surprisingly unaware and disengaged of the city’s thriving central business districts like Central and Wan Chai.
This rather astonishing observation led Jepson that if these young people were not included into the new social and economic fabric of the world’s freest economy, Hong Kong, an entire generation would be left behind. He concluded that the best way to uplift and empower these young people was to bring them into direct contact with Hong Kong’s thriving corporate culture. This kind of direct exposure to the dynamic business scenario, he believed would help greatly to increase the confidence and self-belief of these young people.
Jepson soon went on to found Project Share, a non-profit organization that works to connect and empower these less privileged local youths. The organization actively promotes knowledge transfer between Hong Kong’s professionals and the less privileged student population with the help of four- pronged approach that consists of programs like Summer Internships, Core Skills Workshops, the Factory Series and Outreach.
Project Share and its partners believe that this direct exposure will enable these young students to gain knowledge and experience of vital modern-day interpersonal and communication skills such as co-operative teamwork, effective leadership, time management, responsibility, ingenuity, discipline and corporate etiquette. Such skills are invaluable in the modern day workplace and are not readily available in ordinary classrooms.
Another very positive outcome of this initiative is that by placing these young people in largely English-speaking environments (like the offices of Engel &Voelkers), they will be encouraged to communicate in the accepted language of business, i.e. English. For it has been noticed that Hong Kongers, who have limited or no access to Hong Kong’s international business community, are rather self-conscious of their English-speaking skills and are reluctant to use them.
Engel and Voelkers Hong Kong has enthusiastically partnered with Project Share from the very beginning, and we regularly offer summer placements to the organization’s selected interns. This year, our interns are three young high-school students who are busy learning the ropes of Hong Kong’s buoyant real estate industry. As they navigate their way through our busy offices, they are beingclosely guided and mentored by our team of international staffs, who are more than willing to impart and share their knowledge and experience with these young ladies.
Here at Engel and Voelkers, we believe that this hands-on engagement of Hong Kong’s local community provides us a deeper sense of purpose and the motivation to do the best work possible. Efforts, which will no doubt in time,be beneficial to all of Hong Kong.