The values that the QI Group was built upon have always been the driving force behind any business that the company goes into. Donna Imson, Director of Digital Media and Communications of the QI Group, explained this at a panel discussion titled“How Values Drive Business”, co-organised by the QI Group and Singapore Compact, a national society championing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The panel aimed to discuss the fine line between making profits and still staying true to corporate values.

Imson – who shared the panel with Mr Mok Chee Hong, CSR Ambassador for Fuji Xerox Singapore; Mr Raymond Davids, Founder, d-Bodhi Pte Ltd; and Mr Jason Khor, Corporate Communications, NatSteel Holdings – is part of the QI Group’s founding team.

During the session, she passionately explained how the Group, since its inception in 1998, has always allocated a percentage of revenue towards charitable causes: “We hadn’t even started making profits yet and CSR wasn’t quite the buzz word as it is now, but giving back to society was something that has always been important to QI’s founders.”

“The more profits the QI Group makes, the more we can give back,” she added.

The panellists all agreed that it’s not wrong for businesses to strive to make huge profits but it is important to make them responsibly – through ethical business practises.

Aside from donating funds, corporations should also look at adopting and supporting social enterprises to encourage a more sustainable and impactful form of philanthropy,” said Imson, who feels this is the next phase in CSR.

She described a project that we are piloting in the Philippines, which aims to empower disadvantaged women with the tools, skills and resources to improve on existing products from the company. These products would then be plugged back into the business and sold by QI’s direct selling arm, QNET, which is also our flagship subsidiary.

Imson spoke about how through QNET, we bring entrepreneurial and employment opportunities to people in places like Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East, empowering them to take control of their own lives and achieve success.

She also shared her beliefs on how transparency in business is pertinent, every step of the business model, right down to the supply chain. “Consumers are willing to pay more for ethical products and support brands with responsible business practises,” she said with conviction. She believes that it is this factor that forms the foundation of trust that QI’s five million customers have in the company.

QI also has several corporate volunteering programmes in place, to get employees involved in subscribing to and exemplifying corporate values. One such programme is FOOTPRINTS, a programme where staff mentor underprivileged children over a period of 10 months. This has been successfully carried out in Malaysia and Hong Kong, and there are plans to replicate the programme in other countries where QI operates.

At the end of the panel, all the speakers agreed that it is a positive sign that CSR is gaining prominence among Asian organisations. As discussed during the session, this factor also probably ties back to our communal and ‘others-centric’ culture that has influenced our way of life for generations and generations.

As a company with Asian roots, QI stands among the many organisations that continuously strives to give back to the communities in which we operate.