By EVA CHRISTODOULOU
Financial services provider AmBank Group embraces a role in society that goes beyond just business considerations.
To represent its commitment to people and the wider community, it has defined its corporate social responsibility around four key pillars: Marketplace, Community, Workplace and the Environment.
“Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a big area of attention for the Group,” shares Syed Anuar Syed Ali, Senior General Manager, Group Corporate Communications and Marketing. Syed Anuar is also President of Kelab AmBank Group, the Group’s sports club.
“We chose our four pillars based on Bursa Malaysia’s CSR framework to have a dynamic and relevant CSR vision. These pillars also cover the broad spectrum of our target groups,” he adds.
Here are some milestones that AmBank Group has achieved in its four key pillars:
1. Adding Value to the Marketplace
“We are committed to continuously add value to the marketplace and to contribute to the development of the industry through our wide range of products, services and market initiatives, which we believe will bring about both growth and prosperity,” shares the Senior General Manager.
He explains the Group’s aim to lead innovation in the banking and financial services industry, and to contribute to the wellbeing of the sector through the provision of thought leadership and knowledge exchange with competitors and clients.
This is achieved by constantly improving its product and service benefits to its clients, and by constantly working on improving its governance and investor relations.
One example is the Group’s alignment with the country’s efforts to entrench Malaysia as the world’s leading international hub for Islamic finance.
It has regularly sponsored international Islamic conferences and forums such as the 10th edition of the Kuala Lumpur Islamic Finance Forum in September 2013 with the theme “Islamic Finance: Initiatives, Opportunities and Linkages”.
The Group also regularly sends its product specialists to participate as speakers at such events as the IFN Asia Forum, an international gathering of thought leaders in specialised discussions on the Islamic capital markets, with the latest edition coming up in May 2014.
These lively exchanges of ideas and the latest product innovations positively influence the direction of, and promote growth, in the industry.
The leadership approach to the market has been recognised by the international financial press with awards over the years, including latest awards such as Bank of the Year in Malaysia 2013 (The Banker), Asia’s Best Asset Manager and Best Corporate Account, Asia (Islamic Business and Finance Awards 2013), Best Domestic Bond House (The Asset Triple A Country Awards 2012), and, in investor relations, Best Investor Relations Company, Malaysia (Corporate Governance Asia Asian Excellence Recognition Awards 2014).
AmBank Group was one of the four participating financial institutions in the creation of DanaInfra Nasional Berhad’s retail sukuk, launched in January 2013 and marking the entry of the new asset class of Exchange Traded Bonds and Sukuk (ETBS) on Bursa Malaysia.
The Group is no less active creating unique solutions for the retail banking space, with products such as the AmBank-ANZ Get Set Solution, offering students intending to study in Australia the convenience of pre-opening an ANZ Access Advantage student account in Malaysia.
2. Staying connected to the Community
AmBank Group stays connected to the community by addressing a wide range of issues linked to the development of sustainable communities.
Its initiatives reach the less fortunate, those in distressed situations, and also cover the areas of youth, sports, culture, and the media.
Employees are heavily involved in this Community pillar. Kelab AmBank Group, for instance, encourages employees to volunteer for projects. Staff can also suggest ideas for new projects that would create value for a segment of society.
The AmBank-MyKasih Community Programme, launched in 2009, is one of its programmes aimed at helping the urban poor. It includes a food aid project, where eligible families are given RM80 per month to shop for essential food items at their local grocery store. To date, the programme has benefitted nearly 1,000 families from 12 areas all over Malaysia. The Group has allocated RM1mil per year in sponsoring the programme.
Encouraging education is also a Group concern. AmIslamic Bank’s student adoption programme, in collaboration with Yayasan Pelajaran Mara, provides financial aid for schooling to primary and secondary school students from low-income families until they complete Form Five.
In the spirit of getting its people involved, the Group periodically organises blood donation programmes in collaboration with Pusat Darah Negara by providing facilities for blood donation in the Group’s office buildings, in an attempt to increase awareness and encourage AmBank Group staff to care for other people who are in need.
Giving back to society is at the heart of all the Group’s CSR programmes, and the annual new year’s eve concert organised by the Group, with the latest being theAMBANG 2014 PUTRAJAYA is literally a shining example of its efforts.
For the ninth year, the Group has staged a musical countdown extravaganza with the most popular Malaysian artistes for a live audience averaging half a million strong, with the concert culminating in a dazzling show of fireworks at the stroke of midnight.
3. Providing support at the Workplace
Not overlooking its own staff, “the AmBank Group continues to provide the best possible support to foster staff wellbeing, development and intellectual growth, realising the value which an engaged workforce will be able to add to the Group and the community at large,” stresses Syed Anuar.
The company’s efforts extend to promoting a balanced and healthy lifestyle, fostering a sense of family, providing growth in personal development and constantly seeking improvements in the work environment.
An example of initiatives aiming to increase the wellbeing of staff is the various tournaments and championships organised by the Kelab AmBank Group, where employees can engage in healthy competition and demonstrate their prowess in sports such as bowling, darts, go-karting, paintball, futsal, bowling and snooker.
Additionally, family days are regularly organised, where the management, employees and their families are invited to interact with each other and build even stronger bonds.
This extends to events held across the country so that all parts of the AmBank Group family feel equally connected.
Such family gatherings also provide an opportunity to offer recognition and honours to certain deserving employees of the Group, he says.
Aside from the many opportunities for training and to obtain professional qualifications, the Group’s dedicated Toastmasters Club, running for about seven years now, provides further opportunities for growth to employees.
The Club was recognised as a “Select Distinguished Club” back in 2011 by Toastmasters International for achievements made throughout the year, and continues to hold monthly meetings premised on its mission of inculcating “communication prowess and enhanced leadership skills”.
4 Being responsible to the Environment
Finally, the Group also commits to playing its part in environmental efforts.
“We at AmBank Group emphasise being environmentally responsible in reducing wastage by recycling paper, using electronic communications instead of hard copy printouts and all our main buildings have been designated as ‘No Smoking’ zones.
Furthermore, AmBank Group has been sponsoring Zoo Negara’s Dromedary camels for over 25 years now, and plans are in the way to extend this sponsorship so that the wellbeing of the camels will be sustained in the future, in order for future generations to enjoy this unique animal.
Acknowledging its wide influence in Malaysian society, giving back to society is one of AmBank Group’s top priorities. For the Group, the payoff is not merely seeing the fruits of its labour, but ensuring that it continues to be a community-minded employer that its staff are proud to be a part of.
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Eva is the Research & Development leader at Leaderonomics. She believes that everyone can be the leader they would like to be, if they are willing to put in the effort and are curious to learn along the way, as well as with some help from the people around them.