29 January 2018

Singapore’s mid-sized firms have to play catch up to global peers on sustainable business practices

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  • 47 per cent of Singapore’s mid-sized firms say customers demand sustainable business practices
  • 54 per cent say it will improve their profitability
  • Yet 25 per cent are prioritising investment to become a more sustainable business

Singapore mid-market enterprises (MMEs) need to play catch-up to draw alongside global peers and customer expectations when it comes to adopting sustainable business policies and practices, newly released data from an HSBC report shows.

The findings come from a HSBC report: ‘Hidden Impact – Unlocking the Growth Potential of Mid-Market Enterprises’, which captured the views of more than 1,400 decision-makers across 14 countries (100 in each country including Singapore) within companies that have 200 - 2,000 employees and a turnover of $50m-$500 million.

The report delves deeper into the level of importance mid-sized firms give to sustainability (ethical impact of their business to environment or communities) as part of their companies’ strategy and growth ambitions, and how important they think it is to their profitability.

Singapore firms recognise that environmentally sustainable and ethical products drive growth

According to the report, almost half (47 per cent) of Singapore MME respondents recognise that their customers demand more environmentally sustainable and ethical products, and that 54 per cent believe sustainable business practices will improve their growth and profitability, compared to 59 per cent globally.

Yet firms are slow in adopting…

Despite recognising the potentially positive customer reception and impact on financial performance, 26 per cent (global average 30 per cent) of the Singapore respondents consider sustainability as one of their top three long-term objectives. Similarly 25 per cent are prioritising investment to become a more sustainable business.

Employment diversity is the top tactical approach by companies wanting to be more sustainable in the next three years

When asked about the tactical approaches their business is taking to becoming more sustainable, 23 per cent of Singapore respondents highlighted the external communication of their firm’s ethical goals. In the next three years, it would be to set targets and make progress toward employment diversity goals (61 per cent).

Commenting on the findings, Alan Turner, Head of Commercial Banking, HSBC Singapore, said: “Companies are increasingly recognising the importance of embedding sustainable practices into their current and long term strategies, although the data suggests there is still a lag from growing customer demands on this aspect.”

“Many companies here and in Asia are embarking on their sustainability journey and this is often an uphill task, with some employees skeptical or shying away from the additional effort and costs associated with tracking, reporting or certification.”

“Practical steps to begin embedding more sustainable business practices can include seeking efficiencies in their supply chain that can be both green and cost-effective; publically committing to sustainable targets; and sourcing ecologically sound raw materials,” he said.


Sustainability in top 3 long-term objectives

Positive impact on business

Investing in sustainable business

Customer demand

Global

30%

59%

27%

50%

Australia

34%

61%

33%

51%

Canada

29%

66%

25%

48%

China

32%

54%

23%

49%

France

22%

56%

27%

39%

Germany

26%

62%

25%

70%

Hong Kong

30%

56%

33%

50%

India

28%

68%

19%

53%

Indonesia

43%

62%

31%

50%

Mexico

24%

55%

23%

42%

Saudi Arabia

36%

66%

34%

56%

Singapore

26%

54%

25%

47%

UAE

36%

44%

23%

41%

UK

19%

60%

27%

54%

USA

28%

56%

28%

49%

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Issued by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, Singapore Branch.

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