Wee Siew Kim, CEO of Nipsea Group recently paid a visit to People’s Daily and received a TV interview here.
People’s Daily Online: What Nippon Paint management thinks about social corporate responsibility and as the CEO of Nipsea Group, what do you think about the importance and significance of corporate social responsibility to an enterprise or a brand?
Wee Siew Kim: Well, corporate social responsibility (CSR), as a movement is probably not new, but as a term, maybe only 5 or 6 years since really coming into common business usage. I see it as an umbrella under which many of the disparate activities that have been done by organizations are now been put into a cohesive whole, so as such I am not sure that it is anything new. A lot of the philanthropic and other community based activities are now packaged together. It makes more sense, internally to our internal stake holders especially our employees, as well as, to the external communities.
CSR in the Nipsea group dates back all the way to our founding some 52 years ago when our shareholders and employees began to perform many of charitable and philanthropic activities. Over time as we grow, we have the resources to do more. So I believe that CSR for us is important because it is a key part of our culture. If I have to capture the Nipsea culture in simple terms, we call it “lean for growth”. Culture encapsulates the collective beliefs of all our people and the practices we called upon as we go about our work, day-in day-out. And it has involved all our employees. Hence, our CSR activities have to be employee centric and as a result, we want to choose our CSR initiatives to provide the platform for our employee to enact what they want to do as far as to the environment and to the community are concerned. CSR is seen as something starting from home and starting from every employee and through organization and doing things collectively, through everybody that we can do more. We can illustrate by describing how we go about our CSR and our approach.
The theme of our CSR, as expounded to all our employees, is Eco color. "Eco Color" is the combination of two words. Eco is really what we trying to do as far as the environment and the community is concerned. So the context is "Community and Environment". And Color is how through our business of coating we are expressing ourselves. Hopefully we have this collective team that allows us to put in perspective what we can do on CSR. Under this theme of "Eco Color", we have designed five initiatives.
If you allow me, I will describe our five initiatives and the activities that we translate the essence of our CSR to our people. The more motivated and energized our people are, the stronger then the Nippon Paint China organization is and the better we can contribute to the community. So it is really an internal to external approach and hopefully in turn, the external then drives the internal. So hopefully we achieve a very virtuous feedback loop.
There are the 5 initiatives in our CSR approach:
1. One plus three. One means I. This I refer to the Nippon Paint group ourselves. And the plus three refers to third parties, all our external stakeholders, all our partners. So it is “one plus three”: Nippon Paint plus our partners. Our entire belief is “Yes, we can do a little bit by ourselves, but if we can extend and bring together the strengths of all our people, partners, stakeholders and the community, and do it together we can really multiply our strengths and whatever benefits each of us brings to the community and environment, we can multiply many more times. So as a result, whatever we do in CSR in Nippon Paint China, we want it to be something scalable, where people will join in : it’s not only Nippon Paint China can do it, but Nippon Paint China plus our partners that drive the entire CSR approach. This is "One plus three".
2."Green Movement". Green in that we are in the coating business: we do manufacturing and we use chemicals and resources. We want to be green and cover different aspects of "Green". One, we bring green technologies to our consumers and industrial users. And some aspects of green technology are like water-based technology, less solvent usage and less palliative. We are advancing these technologies and we go out and convince the consumer base of the benefits of these innovations and hopefully together we drive our green technological agenda. So in both R&D and our marketing, we will push the green movement.
And the other part of “green” is resource utilization. And within ourselves in the factories and in the offices, we try to find ways where we use fewer resources for the same outputs.
3. Then the third aspect is what we called “employee care”. As we have always said, it always begins at home. It begins at employees. If we cannot take care of our employees, our employees did not feel motivated, charged up and be happy to come to work every day, then we really have little basis to talk to others outside. So we drive the employee care - which is about making sure they have a good career, safety at work, care for the family. That is why we put “employee care” as a key part of our CSR.
4. The fourth piece is we called “society care”, that’s when we move outside, from inside to the outside. Society care is what we do for the community around us. We try in all the different factories in China. We are probably operating in 26 sites in China, we hope that every site has something to do with the local community; they give back to the area around them. So we get each of the plant managers, the general managers to do their part, society care. We have developed in probably two directions, one is about children and education, give them a good start in life; and the other aspect of society care we devote resources to the elderly and needy, the people that if through our effort, through our people’s involvement, by bringing in our partners, we give them a fresh court of paint and change their environment. Maybe with this better environment, their look to life will be different. And we also stress a lot on sustainability because if you do a project, say you beautify the environment but after two days you go away, there is no sustainability. We hope our people continue to engage the community in a continuous way. That is the society care.
5. The fifth initiative, we call “color, way of love”, which in Chinese is Wei Ai Shang Se. This is a project involving the Hope Schools. As you all know, across China, there are many Hope Schools, and many organizations adopt Hope Schools and support them, whether through people involvement, whether through monetary support or any support in kind. So we also do our own Hope Schools.
Today, the color way of love program is five years old; we just celebrated our fifth anniversary two weeks ago; we have repainted, and refurbished about 180 hope schools over the last five years; we have also built new hope schools, about 35 from then; and we have picked the smaller schools and primary schools, and we hope not only to change the environment, but also to give them a certain start in their life. In the hope schools we have actually built 135 art studios, and they provide some of these rural children exposure to art, get them started with an interest in life. Maybe this is the direction they would like to get into. We can provide the colors, we can probably bring the teachers in, and we also bring partners in. For example, one of our partners is Canon; they provide projectors and photocopiers, as part of the studio outfitting. So that is an example of our one plus tree, we bring our partners in, and we can do it together.
All the hope schools that we adopt are all in the very rural areas.
They are very hard to get to, they are in remote parts of China, and I suspect from the schools I visited over the past four years, they are pretty poor and they need a lot of help. So we go in with our partners, and that’s where the one plus tree comes in together with this color way of love platform. From around the area, we bring our dealers, we engage our employees, and we bring our organizational partners. So today the color way of love count among our Chinese partners, I can name, Wahaha, Sina, Citic Real Estate, and some international-based partners, we have Canon, Coca Cola, Boeing, Dow and Dupont.
These are people who go with us. We contribute together, but the ultimate beneficiaries are the children. So we hope that through us, we give them an improved environment together with our partners, and our partners can bring something like Canon, bring them equipment, like Boeing, it brings them a science education. So they can get a start in art, a start in science, and hopefully by doing that, the nice environment could make children know that people have helped them, make them form a new outlook at life, a new interest. And over the past five years I understand we have about 15,000 students that we have touched, and I really hope that among these 15,000 students, some would grow up to be artists, scientists. They have a different start in life and they become 15,000 more contributing citizens of China, hopefully become good consumers, hopefully they use more paints, and then in turn, they contribute to other people and children. And hopefully I think this is a sustainable growth upon growth approach. So if you talk about CSR, that’s how we are driving our CSR. The theme, eco color, five initiatives, coopt employees, coopt our partners, our customers fully, and together we do more and more, year-by-year.