Date
20 January 2017
Stanford president John Hennessy (left) and philanthropist Philip Knight are the inspiration and driving force behind Stanford University's new scholarship program. Photo: news.stanford.edu/
Stanford president John Hennessy (left) and philanthropist Philip Knight are the inspiration and driving force behind Stanford University's new scholarship program. Photo: news.stanford.edu/

Corporate social responsibility: It’s more than image-building

Nowadays, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is increasingly critical to the reputation and growth of a company.

A former business executive has suggested a scholarship to develop high-caliber people for CSR roles.

That’s a good way to boost corporate social performance (CSP).

If we can find talented students and give them some help or subsidy, we would be making an early investment in the future.

In Hong Kong, students can apply for scholarships from primary school all the way to college.

Those with excellent performance in academics, music or athletics can get financial support.

Many schools already participate in the government’s direct subsidy scheme but they could offer scholarships to attract talented students.

Also, students can apply for scholarships from other countries to study in world-class universities overseas.

Stanford University recently launched the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship, named after Philip H. Knight, founder of Nike Inc., and Stanford president John L. Hennessy.

Nike is contributing US$400 million to the scholarship fund. 

The program will admit 100 high-achieving students annually.

They will receive funding for three-year master’s or doctorate programs.

The scholarship fund has raised more than US$700 million in donations, which makes it the largest fully endowed scholarship program in the world.

Stanford will begin accepting applications in summer 2017.

Applicants must show high academic achievement, leadership and civic commitment.

Nike’s financial commitment to the scholarship program is a lot of money but it’s nothing compared with its endorsement contracts with the world’s top athletes.

Besides, its impact on society will be long-lasting.

Also, the program will help export Stanford’s values and attract future leaders from all over the world.

In turn, it will cement the university’s status as a top-notch global learning institution.

CSR is a better way to boost corporate image than buying advertisements. The cycle goes on.

For instance studies show that good CSR leads to better CSP and CFP.

More than 60 percent of consumers prefer products from an ethical company.

If companies invest more in CSR, they are likely to grow their revenue and profit, according to the studies.

CSP and CFP are more closely related to each other in this era of social networking and micro power.

A good CSR strategy should not be dominated by leaders or management. Neither should it be used for marketing purposes.

Instead, it should promote the company’s role in society, uphold its values and ultimately benefit its stakeholders.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 15.

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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