Hong Kong, Macao SMEs asked to apply for Deignan Award

May 23, 2024 22:44

The Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) of Hong Kong and Macau were invited to apply for the Second Deignan Award for Responsible Entrepreneurship, named for a famous Irish Jesuit priest.
A Launch Ceremony and Panel Discussion were held at the FHKA Seminar Hall in Xiju Centre in Kowloon on Monday, with the theme of "Corporate Philanthropy", to encourage SMEs to support public welfare and create a "triple-win" situation.

It was organized by Wofoo Social Enterprise, Macau Ricci Institute, and the University of Saint Joseph in Macau. More than 80 guests attended, including Mr. Ho Kai-ming, JP, Under Secretary for Labour and Welfare and people from government, commercial and community sectors.

Dr. Joseph Lee, vice-chairman of the award, emphasized the pivotal role of philanthropic initiatives, underscoring the principle of "Do Well, Do Good." "The Deignan Award aims to amplify success stories and catalyse wider corporate philanthropy in Hong Kong. Our ultimate goal is to foster harmony and prosperity, but this requires the support and collaboration of different sectors to generate social value and drive positive change in Hong Kong and Macau.”

Dr. Stephan Rothlin, chairman of the award, said: "The award encourages companies to adhere to their core values and establish positive connections in the competitive marketplace. The participation of an academic institution underscores that this is not just a competition, but an empowering platform that connects and supports small and medium-sized enterprises, fostering a business community that embraces ethical practices and sustainable models."

In March 2023, a seven-year-old Hong Kong start-up won the first gold Deignan Award for Responsible Entrepreneurship. GoGoChart Technology has provided digital solutions to more than 2,000 in different sectors in over 60 countries since its foundation in 2017.

The panel discussion included industry leaders from Hong Kong and Macau sharing their practical experiences. They explored how enterprises can drive positive social impact through charitable endeavours, enhance corporate social responsibility, and promote sustainable development.

The speakers included Dr Sandy Lau, Miss Hong Kong Winner, Founder and Chairlady of London Ball Foundation and Mindful Mandarins Foundation: Calvin Cheng, Chairman of Hong Kong SME Association: Ruby O, Head Judge of First Deignan Award and Timas Liu, Director, Destination Design.

The award aims to encourage ethical business practices and engage enterprises in their drive to create sustainable business models guided by the principles of justice, solidarity and responsibility.
The award recognises top business leaders who exhibit exemplary practices that contribute to society’s common good.

This year’s theme was “Corporate Philanthropy – Sharing Values, Determination and Compassion”. While businesses have adopted measures like ESG to achieve positive impact, the Deignan Award goes further, aiming to maximise comprehensive positive impact through ethical business practices, the award committee said.

“In today's era of accountability, we must evolve to make a positive difference. SMEs, with their local connections and agility, remarkably supported disadvantaged groups during economic challenges, showcasing their potential as drivers of sustainable assistance.

“The Second Deignan Award harnesses SMEs' ability to deliver impactful targeted help, encouraging businesses to embrace corporate philosophy and share values and compassion,” it said.

The awards go to SMEs – which employ less than 100 people -- operating in Hong Kong and Macao. Its objective is to carefully select successful and qualified SMEs, which show a credible track record of specific achievements in the field of sustainability and the implementation of ethical practices based on the most updated research on corporate social responsibility and business ethics. A panel of judges shortlisted three finalists each from Hong Kong and Macao.

In recent years, the attention of both the business world and business schools has focused increasingly on ethics, corporate accountability and responsibility. ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance factors). Courses on ethics and ESG are proliferating rapidly, driven in part by the demands of MBA students, and partly by the various challenges and crises facing the world today.
Companies are beginning to genuinely encourage these initiatives, and it has become imperative for business schools to take significant steps to add courses and co-curricular work on ethics and corporate social responsibility.

“The Deignan Award goes further than mere compliance in aiming to maximise comprehensive positive impact through ethical business practices through a specific focus on values such as compassion, honesty, integrity, truthfulness linked to entrepreneurial drive,” the award committee said.

The award is named for Father Alfred Deignan, an Irish Jesuit priest who lived in Hong Kong for 65 years until his death in 2018, at the age of 91. The award recognises Alfred Deignan’s mission and commitment to education and the promotion of values and ethical business practices.

He served as teacher, school principal, social activist and friend and counsellor to thousands of people. He was head of the Jesuits in Hong Kong and principal of both Wah Yan Colleges. He received honorary awards from three institutions of higher learning in Hong Kong.

In 1997, with other dedicated people in secondary and tertiary institutions, he established the Hong Kong International Institute of Education Leadership. At its first general meeting in September 1997, Father Deignan, chairman, said: “the HKIIEF is born from a dream – a dream of a better standard of behaviour in our society … We only have to read the newspapers to get practical evidence of crime, violence, greed, dishonesty, drugs, sexual abuse, injustice and corruption in society. There is a great need to build up the moral fibre of society, and we feel that this can be done through moral or values education.”

Its mission is “to foster a community which is fair, honest, just, caring, compassionate, responsible, trustworthy, generous and with courage: a community which lives in harmony and sets a high standard of moral behaviour.” It issues certificate courses for teachers and seminars and activities for students and parents. It publishes books and newsletters to promote basic human values and organises programmes for schools.

A Hong Kong-based writer, teacher and speaker.