Community 'investment' pays off
UPS, however, has no intention of falling into that trap. Of course, the company has its commercial priorities and goals for expansion.
However, it has also made a commitment to play a part in the community through volunteer activities and social initiatives addressing specific needs and improving lives.
"We believe that a company grows by investing in the business and in the community," says David Cheung, human resources manager at UPS Hong Kong and Macau.
"That's why it is important for us to build a legacy as a caring corporate citizen."
A recent project with the Hong Kong Association of the Deaf (HKAD) demonstrated this commitment. It was prompted in part by a report from the Census and Statistics Department which drew attention to the difficulties hearing-impaired people have in finding employment.
The report noted that only about 11,110 out 70,200 hearing-impaired individuals, aged between 15 and 60, have regular work, with middle-aged women having the most difficulty finding a job.
Made aware of the situation by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, UPS agreed to work with the HKAD, which had plans to set up an in-house centre to train hearing-impaired women to be domestic helpers through a 128-hour course. The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions and the Employees Retraining Board agreed to supply lecturers to conduct classes, with topics ranging from first aid and childcare, to looking after expectant mothers.
In August last year, UPS began to offer assistance on several levels. Firstly, the company's foundation provided financial support of US$16,000 for the more than 50 participants who signed up for the programme.
The company also paid for any extra equipment - irons, washing machines, laptops - needed for the classes.
Finally, a team of more than 30 in-house volunteers contributed to the structured part of the training and, along with family members and friends, organised social activities giving participants a chance to interact and practise their communication skills.
"I was very proud to be one of the presenters at the graduation ceremony because the course led to 100 per cent employment for attendees," Cheung says. "As domestic helpers, they earn between HK$40 and HK$60 an hour and, I'm happy to say, some have found opportunities with the families of UPS employees."
UPS plans to organise a hike to reunite volunteers and course participants, and the company is now deciding whether to repeat the domestic training programme this year, or to focus on a different initiative. "We are willing to work with NGOs [non-governmental organisations] on any project," Cheung says.
UPS outreach goals
- Every year, UPS has a global volunteer month during which staff organise community activities
- The company likes to identify specific projects where its support can bring a measurable social impact
- Initiatives focus on literacy, encourage diversity, community safety, sustainability and non-profit effectiveness