- Give us a little background as to how your company started and what you do…
Community Business was founded in 2003 in Hong Kong, with the goal of harnessing the power of business to drive social change. Over the last 15 years, we have expanded our reach throughout Asia and are a recognised leader in advancing responsible and inclusive business practices across the region. Community Business facilitates a number of corporate networks, conducts research, organises conferences and events, leads programmes and campaigns, and provides training and consultancy to companies looking to create diverse and inclusive workplaces and adopt more responsible business practices.
After having a wonderful corporate career in banking, insurance and technology, I joined Community Business as CEO in 2012. I had always admired Community Business and its founder Shalini Mahtani, and its causes resonated with me. Over the last six years,we have expanded our offering, opened a subsidiary office in Bangalore, India,and launched the ground-breaking Hong Kong LGBT+ Inclusion Index and Awards. Our longstanding focus on work/life balance has also been extended to encompass more holistic employee wellbeing.
- Does your organization have a Canadian Connection? If so, what is the nature of the connection?
Yes! I am a CBC (Canadian-born Chinese) and grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan. I moved to Hong Kong in 1987. Growing up in Canada instilled in me the importance of equality, fairness, and inclusion, which underpin much of the work that we do at Community Business.
- Which of your organization’s latest achievements that you are most proud of?
Community Business strives to lead bold conversations with companies and to change mindsets. When businesses lead, they influence change in wider society.We are privileged to work with amazing companies and partners from all over the world, and have seen incredible progress in several areas including:
- Our LGBT+ Inclusion Index and Awards, launched in 2015, pioneered conversations about workplace inequality for LGBT+ employees and provided a crucial benchmark for companies to chart their progress towards full inclusion.
- Our high-impact ENGAGE programme, now in its eleventh year, bringing together community partners and the private sector to work in collaboration to positively impact disadvantaged teenagers through mentorship, skills development and community engagement.
- Community Business have always been active in promoting Work-Life Balance. This year, in line with how the concept of employee wellbeing has evolved in recent years, we’ve repositioned our campaign to promote a more holistic approach to employee wellbeing and launched Asia Employee Wellbeing Week. This platform incorporates four elements that we believe are crucial to achieving all-round wellbeing: work-life harmony, physical wellbeing, emotional wellbeing, and financial wellbeing. Earlier this year, we zoomed in on stakeholder conversations around emotional wellbeing and conducted ground-breaking research into Embracing Mental Health in the Workplace in Asia. This report highlights the business case for addressing mental health in the workplace, helps to increase understanding on the issues in Asia, and highlights the role the corporate sector can play in impacting positive change.
That said, there’s still so much work to do!
- Do you have any advice for those who aspire to join your industry?
The non-profit sector is ideal for those who want to positively contribute to a better world. However, being passionate and having a good heart isn’t enough – solid technical and business skills, knowledge and experience are also needed to help solve the world’s most pressing problems. Nowadays, non-profits like Community Business operate like a social enterprise, based on commercial principles – however, their ultimate aim is not profit maximisation. We are a purpose-led organisation, but arguably all companies are expected to be these days.
People like me who have had a fulfilling corporate career should consider an ‘encore career’, leveraging their talent, skills and wealth of experience in the non-profit sector. Those who are not ready to make the leap to fulltime employment in this sector could work on a project or part-time basis or be a volunteer. Non-profits tend to have less resources, so be prepared to be flexible, resourceful and wear multiple hats. As with any role, if you are committed, positive, engaged, and open to learning, you’ll do well.
- What has been your favourite part of your role so far? What do you enjoy the most about running this company?
There are two favourite parts of my role: working with a great team of dedicated professionals who truly want to make a difference. Our team is spread over Hong Kong, Bangalore and the UK, and represents different cultures, backgrounds, and generations – we walk the talk when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Secondly, we need to apply creativity, collaboration, problem-solving, entrepreneurship, and a myriad of other business skills to address real world social issues. It’s a very stimulating environment in which you are constantly learning and growing.
- What book do you think every business owner should read?
I would recommend that every leader read the recently published book “The Mind of the Leader –How to Lead Yourself, Your People, and Your Organization for Extraordinary Results” by Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter. The book explores modern leadership traits and the value of compassion, selflessness and mindfulness in engaging teams and driving sustainable results. In today’s fast-paced, complex, and stressful world, the book offers some valuable practical advice for all leaders – that starts with yourself and your own mind.