We are delighted to welcome Yui Ku, our Director of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability, to the Shangri-La team. We had a chat with her about her enthusiasm for CSR and how she lives a sustainable lifestyle.
What inspired you to pursue a career in relation to CSR and sustainability?
When I was an undergraduate student, my internship with an emissions trading company involved in buying and selling carbon emission credits demonstrated how businesses can potentially contribute to the common good while making profits. This experience got me interested in finding out the crossovers between doing good and making money for different types of businesses, hence a career in relation to corporate sustainability.
What is your role in Shangri-La’s CSR efforts?
I see my role as twofold. Internally, I’m looking at how Shangri-La can increase positive impacts on communities and on natural environment, and meanwhile reduce our negative impacts through initiatives such as resource efficiency and waste reduction. Externally, I would like to ensure that our CSR efforts are communicated to our stakeholders in sincere and effective manners. The ultimate aim is that our stakeholders, such as guests and NGOs, recognize, support and cooperate with us on CSR.
In the last decade companies have been increasingly committed to operating responsibly and sustainable, but do you think the efforts are effective enough? How do you see CSR 10 years from now?
In terms of corporate sustainability, there was a gradual shift from a pure philanthropic approach of volunteering and donating to charity, to looking internally at opportunities to enhance the sustainability of business operations. A trend of evaluating and communicating sustainable performance through impact measurement has also emerged in recent years. Typical examples include measuring cost savings achieved through energy efficiency projects and positive changes happening to the beneficiaries of charitable projects funded by corporate donations.
In the next 10 years, I foresee the gradual fading out of the word CSR. There will be sourcing products made from sustainable materials or factoring in a social return on investment (SROI) into investment decisions, will become an integral part of business operations. In this way, businesses move towards full implementation of the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.
Outside of work, what have you done to live a more sustainable life?
Taking public transportation whenever possible instead of taxi, separating recyclable waste from non-recyclable ones at home, using LED light bulbs at home, and donating all unwanted clothes to charity / recycling companies are among some of the sustainable practices I’ve adopted. From a mental perspective, a sustainable life for me is about maintaining the balance between a peaceful mind and the desire of wanting to achieve more in life. To maintain the balance, I attend events about Social Innovation, participate in volunteering activities, and go to dance classes. Recently, I started practicing yoga breathing, which helps restore a sense of peacefulness within a short time.
Which unsustainable behaviour are you most embarrassed about?
Oops, this is a good question! Born and raised in the northern China city of Tianjin, I fly home several times a year to visit family, and contribute to global warming by generating carbon emissions along the way. To reduce my environmental footprint, I take an overnight train back home when time allows. Otherwise, I try to offset the additional carbon emissions by supporting good emission reduction projects.