SINGAPORE: In a compelling address at the President’s Challenge Social Enterprise Awards Ceremony, Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam urged companies to embrace social responsibility, emphasizing the importance of integrating profit and purpose within the business ecosystem.

President Shanmugaratnam expressed the need for a cultural shift, stating, “We’re trying to develop a broader culture within our business ecosystem, which enables profit and purpose to go hand in hand.” He stressed the necessity for businesses to recognize the long-term benefits of contributing to the country’s shared future.

The President highlighted that the aim is not limited to the growth of social enterprises alone but extends to fostering a culture where social and environmental responsibility become integral to how businesses operate. He emphasized the need for this ethos to be mainstreamed across the business sector, influencing decision-making processes for investors, stakeholders, and consumers.

Addressing the practical aspects of this integrated approach, President Shanmugaratnam outlined key considerations for businesses. This included ethical treatment of suppliers, especially smaller or younger companies, fair employment practices, and efforts towards inclusive hiring, encompassing differently-abled individuals and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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Acknowledging that businesses can still be profitable while embracing social responsibility, the President commended role models in the business world and investors who are already leading the way. He encouraged the business community to follow suit, underlining the importance of growing the number of enterprises and investors committed to the intersection of sustaining profits and contributing to social and environmental well-being.

President Shanmugaratnam also called for collective action, stressing the role of shareholders and consumers. He highlighted the potential influence of consumers, particularly the younger generation, in supporting businesses that prioritize social and economic good over merely brand recognition.

The President’s Challenge Social Enterprise Awards aim to recognize outstanding enterprises that create value for society and establish sustainable business models. Among the winners are a piano academy developing programs for students with special needs and a coffee shop employing 60 individuals with special needs.