How Does The Rise Of ESG Reporting Impact Financial Outsourcing Solutions?


28 March 2023

Financial outsourcing solutions can play a critical role in helping companies manage their ESG reporting obligations effectively and efficiently.

Financial outsourcing solutions refer to the practice of hiring external service providers to perform financial tasks and functions for a company or organization. This can include a wide range of financial activities, such as accounting, bookkeeping, payroll processing, tax preparation, auditing, financial analysis, and financial reporting.

By outsourcing financial tasks, companies can benefit from a range of advantages, including cost savings, increased efficiency, improved accuracy, and access to specialized expertise. Outsourcing can also free up internal resources and allow businesses to focus on their core competencies.

There are several different types of financial outsourcing solutions available, including business process outsourcing (BPO), knowledge process outsourcing (KPO), and legal process outsourcing (LPO). Each type of outsourcing service is designed to provide specific financial solutions and support to businesses based on their needs and objectives.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)

Business process outsourcing (BPO) is a practice where companies outsource non-core business functions to third-party service providers. BPO involves the transfer of responsibilities and tasks related to a specific business process or set of processes, allowing companies to focus on their core competencies and strategic priorities.

BPO can involve a wide range of functions and processes, such as:

Customer service and support: BPO providers can handle customer inquiries, complaints, and technical support, providing 24/7 support to customers across different time zones.

Human resources: BPO providers can manage HR functions such as recruitment, employee onboarding, payroll processing, benefits administration, and performance management.

Accounting and finance: BPO providers can manage accounting and finance functions such as bookkeeping, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and financial reporting.

Supply chain management: BPO providers can manage supply chain functions such as procurement, inventory management, and logistics.

Data entry and management: BPO providers can handle data entry, processing, and management for various business functions.

BPO providers typically use advanced technologies and tools to provide customized solutions to their clients, including automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. BPO services can help companies reduce costs, improve operational efficiency, and access specialized expertise that may not be available in-house.

BPO can be an effective strategy for companies to streamline their operations, increase productivity, and focus on their core competencies. By outsourcing non-core functions to third-party service providers, companies can reduce administrative burdens, improve service quality, and gain access to specialized expertise and technologies.

Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO)

Knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) is a form of outsourcing where a company outsources knowledge-based activities that require advanced analytical and technical skills to a third-party service provider. KPO typically involves outsourcing activities that require high-level expertise, specialized knowledge, and advanced analytical and research skills. Examples of KPO activities include:

Market research and analysis: KPO providers can conduct in-depth research on markets, industries, and competitors to provide businesses with insights and recommendations for strategic decision-making.

Data analytics and business intelligence: KPO providers can help companies collect, analyze, and interpret complex data to support business operations, such as customer behavior, sales performance, and financial performance.

Intellectual property research and management: KPO providers can assist companies with patent research, trademark research, copyright research, and other legal research related to intellectual property management.

Financial analysis and modeling: KPO providers can provide companies with advanced financial modeling and analysis, including forecasting, valuation, risk analysis, and scenario planning.

Engineering and design services: KPO providers can provide design and engineering services to help companies develop and improve products and services.

KPO providers typically employ highly skilled professionals with advanced degrees and specialized knowledge in their fields. They use advanced technologies and tools to provide customized solutions and insights to their clients. KPO services can help companies reduce costs, improve operational efficiency, and access specialized expertise that may not be available in-house.

Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO)

Legal process outsourcing (LPO) is a form of outsourcing where a company outsources legal services and activities to a third-party service provider. LPO typically involves outsourcing activities that require legal expertise and knowledge, such as:

Document review and management: LPO providers can assist companies with document review and management for legal cases, contracts, and regulatory compliance.

Legal research and analysis: LPO providers can conduct legal research and analysis to support legal cases, regulatory compliance, and strategic decision-making.

Contract management: LPO providers can help companies manage and draft contracts, including reviewing and negotiating terms, and ensuring compliance with legal requirements.

Intellectual property services: LPO providers can assist companies with intellectual property-related services, such as patent research, trademark research, and copyright registration.

Litigation support: LPO providers can assist with litigation support services, such as document preparation, case analysis, and legal research.

LPO providers typically employ lawyers, paralegals, and legal assistants with expertise in different areas of law. They use advanced technologies and tools to provide customized solutions and insights to their clients. LPO services can help companies reduce legal costs, improve operational efficiency, and access specialized legal expertise that may not be available in-house.

The Impact Of Rising ESG Reporting Demands On Financial Outsourcing Solutions

Financial outsourcing solutions have become increasingly important with the rise of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) reporting for several reasons:

ESG reporting requires specialized knowledge and expertise in sustainability, corporate responsibility, and social impact. Outsourcing ESG reporting to third-party service providers with this expertise can help companies ensure that their reporting is accurate, comprehensive, and aligned with industry best practices. ESG reporting involves collecting and analyzing large amounts of data from multiple sources, including financial data, social impact data, and environmental impact data. Outsourcing these tasks to third-party service providers can help companies streamline their data collection and analysis processes, saving time and resources.

Outsourcing ESG reporting can help companies ensure that their reporting meets regulatory requirements and stakeholder expectations. Third-party service providers can provide independent verification and validation of ESG data, improving the quality and credibility of reporting. Enhanced stakeholder engagement: ESG reporting is important for engaging with stakeholders, including investors, customers, employees, and communities. Outsourcing ESG reporting to third-party service providers can help companies communicate their ESG performance effectively, increasing stakeholder trust and confidence.

Financial outsourcing solutions can play a critical role in helping companies manage their ESG reporting obligations effectively and efficiently. By outsourcing ESG reporting to third-party service providers, companies can access specialized expertise, improve reporting quality, streamline data collection and analysis, and enhance stakeholder engagement.

Green Freight Asia & ESG Fintech Join Hands To Greenify And Enable Access To Sustainable Financing


20 March 2023

Green Freight Asia (GFA) and STACS partner to enable companies in the logistics sector to build resilience and transition to sustainability.

Hashstacs Pte Ltd (‘STACS’), a leading Singapore-headquartered environmental, social, and governance (‘ESG’) FinTech firm today announced its partnership with green logistics certification body and non-profit association Green Freight Asia Network (‘GFA’). The partnership centres around the aggregation of transportation and logistics certifications onto STACS’s ESGpedia digital registry, which powers the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (‘MAS’) Greenprint ESG Registry.

In a sector that traditionally lacks green certification and harmonised sustainability reporting standards to guide businesses on their decarbonisation journey, GFA and STACS aim to empower businesses in the sector to build resilience and transition to sustainability practices, through enhanced access to sustainable financing brought about by digital technology: logistics businesses that have attained the GFA certification can showcase it on their digital ESG profile, and utilise digital tools on the platform to better track and monitor their emission reduction.

This is especially key as the transportation sector is one of the largest contributors to GHG emissions, accounting for 15% of Singapore’s carbon emissions, and is also highly susceptible to global climate risks and disruptive shocks. In Singapore, the government has also announced its commitment to achieving 80% reduction in carbon emissions for the sector by 2023.[1]

Recognised by banks, Green Freight Asia’s Labelling and Certification Programme certifies companies that demonstrate a commitment to and progress toward the adoption of green freight practices. The GFA Label is an external validation of a company’s commitment to sustainability in the logistics sector. The four rankings for Carriers and Shippers include Minimum, Enhanced, Strong, and Outstanding (Leaf 1 to Leaf 4).

These rankings encourage Carriers to continuously improve fuel and energy efficiency in their operations to increase their chances in Shippers’ carrier selection processes and likewise serve as proof of environmental compliance for Shippers when contracting third-party logistics services. The GFA Labelling and Certification Programme fosters close collaboration between Carriers and Shippers to advance their sustainability performance, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of road freight logistics in the APAC region.

ESGpedia aggregates sustainability data including fuel consumption, carbon emissions, and carbon intensity. It also provides analytics like benchmarking against industry standards, as well as overall levels of carbon savings, which provide enhanced visibility to companies who are looking to track their sustainability performance and carbon footprint. Through the partnership, businesses which have attained the GFA Certificate can choose to create a company ESG profile on ESGpedia for free, where they can upload and showcase their various sustainability efforts, as well as better track their emission targets with ready digital tools.

Financial institutions can also access this data and use it to develop greener capital financing solutions that can help in the formulation of data-driven emission reduction strategies. Banks can also engage in positive screening of green logistics businesses that meet their ESG credential criteria, to engage in ESG financing.

This latest partnership marks further developments in ESGpedia’s transport and logistics coverage, following STACS’s live use case with Singlife with Aviva and CO2 Connect (‘CO2X’) earlier last year[2], whereby Singlife leveraged CO2X’s logistics carbon emissions tracking capabilities and data on ESGpedia registry (obtained with consent from insurance policyholders) to efficiently develop and better structure new green motor insurance policies.

Mr Krishan Kumar Ralhan, Director and CEO at Green Freight Asia Network, said: “At Green Freight Asia Network (GFA), we seek to expand our network and collaborate with like-minded organisations to improve the sustainability performance of the freight, transport, and logistics industry in the APAC region.

We are pleased to partner with STACS ESGpedia to feature our flagship certification programme on the ESGpedia registry. This move will equip companies in the logistics sector with data digitization tools to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. We believe that the GFA Label is a valuable contribution to the freight industry’s decarbonisation journey, and we encourage more freight companies to take this first step.”

Benjamin Soh, Managing Director at STACS, Co-Founder at CO2X said, said: “The future we envision for Asia’s transport and logistics industry is one that leverages on technology and quality data to spearhead sustainability and achieve its decarbonisation goals. With increasing regulatory push, there is a dire need for businesses in the sector to build resilience in today’s climate. Our partnership with Green Freight Asia (GFA) is highly strategic, combining GFA’s certification program for the logistics sector with enhanced visibility, better data, and emissions tracking on STACS’s ESGpedia registry. With green capital being a key enabler in businesses’ transition, ESGpedia also enhances sustainable financing opportunities for GFA-certified companies on the registry.”

IMA Releases Report on Climate Risk and Readiness in Business


DigitalCFO Asia Newsroom | 21 December 2022

Research on the current state of internal corporate functions regarding climate and ESG risks found slow response and significant challenges in meeting accelerating demands

solar panels on roof
Photo by Scott Webb on

IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) today released a green paper that offers insights on how the finance functions of companies are responding to climate-change and other sustainable business risks, often referred to as ESG for environmental, social, and governance. Based on a survey of IMA’s diverse, international membership, “Climate Risk and Strategies: Finance Function Readiness to Meet Accelerating Demands” provides a snapshot on the current state of risk management processes around these emerging areas. The perspectives of IMA’s unique constituency, accounting and finance professionals in businesses of different sizes, industries, and geographic regions, provided a means for understanding internal practices and dynamics. 

Despite both internal and external drivers to advance corporate reporting mandates around climate change, the results suggest that while large, public organizations have taken some steps toward identification, assessment, and management of these risks and potential opportunities, movement among companies in the broader economy remains slow. As a green paper, the study invites other researchers and thought leaders to continue to investigate deeply into the perspective and needs of participants in the broader economy, particularly small and medium sized businesses, in responding to climate change and similar ESG matters. 

“There are significant opportunities for businesses to shift from initial climate risk identification to the valuable activities of assessment, mitigation, and management,” said Shari Littan, CPA, director of corporate reporting research and policy at IMA and co-author of the study. “Developing risk management and accounting processes around climate-related and other sustainability risks can help businesses identify opportunities that can become the basis of carefully developed and resilient strategy and objectives to preserve assets, enhance business performance, and build long-term value.”

“Management accountants have a key role to play in internalizing a strategic response by businesses, and managing and controlling effective systems of implementation. Our survey shows the lack of preparedness that exists in dealing with scenario analysis tools and points to the need for revised portfolio risk views as indicated by the COSO Enterprise Risk Management Framework,” said Cornis van der Lugt, study co-author and senior lecturer at Stellenbosch University business school.

“Management accountants can support organizational climate and sustainability adaptation by advancing their skills in risk identification, assessing vulnerability, strategy development and process management in these areas. This report synthesizes the research findings and sets the scene for future research and practice in these areas,” said Josh Heniro, Ph.D., Senior Director, Southeast Asia at IMA.

To read the report, visit IMA’s website:

Upgraded ESG Technology Alliance Drives Changes in Governance across ASEAN


DigitalCFO Newsroom | 22 November 2022

Taiwan and Japan take technological exchanges a step further.

Geopolitical tensions in the Asia-Pacific region have triggered a crisis in global supply chains. Taiwan and Japan have recently expanded their collaborative efforts and exchanges in the technology field. Both markets share the characteristics of interdependence and complementarity. Thus, the two regions have close partnerships, especially in foresight technology and economic and trade cooperation. With flourishing governmental and civil exchanges, Taiwan-Japan collaborations continue to thrive.

Sunrisemedium, a Taiwanese digital media outlet, and Startup Island TAIWAN, a public sector start-up brand, organized the ESG Opportunity Matchmaking and Exchange Forum for Taiwan-Japan in November of this year, to which they invited 9 major technology start-ups from Taiwan and Japan to discuss the opportunities for cooperation between the two regions in the ESG field. The forum focused on joint efforts to enter the ASEAN market with solutions and collaborative approaches in three dimensions: digital transformation, environmental sustainability and intelligent infrastructure. The participating technology start-ups from Japan include QUANDO, zeroboard and VACAN. Taiwan’s participating companies include Wishing-Soft, Sustaihub, Dawoko, Canopy Impact Investment, Blutech and TMY Technology.

Representatives from Taiwan and Japan reached consensus on three important topics that are key in accelerating regional integration and achieving the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050:

1. The relationship between Taiwan and Japan evolves from trusted partners to a regional ESG technology alliance: Jointly capturing the Asia-Pacific market requires one to two years of resource coordination and planning, and needs to drive a collective supply chain upgrade for ASEAN members

2. Taiwanese and Japanese companies jointly promote ESG with altruism as the core: Companies in the two regions serve as models for and drivers of the digital infrastructure and circular economy ecosystem in the Asia-Pacific region. One assists others to maximize their business value.

3. Taiwan and Japan accelerate the sharing of their experience in the application of AI in both regions: Taiwan and Japan have similar population aging processes, lifestyles and educational systems. As such, this dramatically shortens the journey of AI machine learning.

With the synergy of assistance, complementarity and reciprocity, Taiwan and Japan have initiated 9 key paths to industrial transformation. The 9 key paths include heavy industry, manufacturing, energy, construction, transportation, information and communications, low-orbiting satellites, agriculture, livestock and life services. The forum focused on three key themes in line with the ESG paths:

1. Digital transformation overcomes human limitations and successfully drives business decisions:

  • QUANDO’s remote collaboration platform accelerates the transformation of aging industrial facilities;
  • Wishing-Soft’s SaaS dramatically reduces ESH (Environmental, Safety and Health) risks; and
  • Sustaihub’s AI technologies optimize ESG decisions.

2. Carbon reduction, the circular economy and local entrepreneurship nurture environmentally sustainable supply chains:

  • zeroboard’s cloud services for the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions help companies decarbonize;
  • Dawoko’s forestry circular economy connects 30 companies to help create a new model for living responsibly; and
  •  Canopy Impact Investment’s integration platform empowers new ventures in agriculture and food to expand the impact of their ESG paths.

3. Smart infrastructure facilitates digital governance in public and private sectors:

  • VACAN’s AI-based platform, which detects space that is not being used such as empty seats in restaurants and empty spaces in parking lots, maximizes space utilization and can be repurposed to meet emergency relief needs;
  • Blutech’s wireless sensing technology overcomes limitations of field management such as physical wiring; and
  • TMYTEK uses 5G and satellite communication technologies to build the data transmission and communications foundation for a smart city. 

Taiwan-Japan exchanges and cooperation are just around the corner. The two goals for 2023 are:

1. Leverage Taiwan’s strength in executing proofs of concept (PoCs): Collaborating on the plans for the Japanese supply chain market, and establishing a presence in the Asia-Pacific, European and American markets

2. Connect Taiwan’s and Japan’s supply chain data: Sharing the digital build of software and hardware to reverse the renewable energy deficit in the Asia-Pacific region

Japan, as a leader in the circular economy, is the first G7 country to consider ESG when making decisions concerning investment in foreign exchange reserves in 2021. In addition, Japan has put in place policies on digital governance and boosted the transformation of local traditional industries. All the efforts eventually make the society be prepared to enter the aging society with AI applications. These policies and their applications will influence digital development across all ASEAN countries. Taiwan, as the invisible driver of the global technology supply chain, will continue to support the R&D and applications of Japanese partners. Furthermore, Taiwan is also developing flexible international co-creation models. Taiwanese innovation teams are able to empower Japanese counterparts to deliver more comprehensive and sustainable services to ASEAN members. Resource integration will be the focus of Taiwan-Japan exchanges in 2023. Sunrisemedium and Startup Island TAIWAN will match the ESG resources of more Taiwanese and Japanese companies and create cross-country clustering benefits in Asia-Pacific supply chains.

Keeping up with the “S” in the ESG


Fatihah Ramzi, DigitalCFO Asia | 11 November 2022

Wilson Ang, Partner, Head of Asia Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright


How can a business manage its interactions with its employees, the society in which it conducts business, and the political landscape? The “S” in ESG investing, the social component of sustainable investing, stands for this fundamental query. The financial performance of a corporation can be impacted by a variety of social issues, from short- to long-term difficulties. The company’s strengths and limitations in coping with social trends, labor, and politics are social aspects to take into account while making sustainable investment decisions. Concentrating on these issues can boost business success and corporate responsibility.

To gain a better understanding of the “S” component in ESG, DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Wilson Ang, Partner, Head of Asia Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright.

The Current Trends In Social Factors That Are Greatly Affecting Businesses

ESG is an umbrella term that was coined by the United Nations in 2005 and relates to investments that go beyond typical short-term financial considerations. The concepts are focused on long-term, responsible value investing, and they cover environmental, social and governance issues. G, for governance, has always been top-of-mind for business and the E for environment is gaining prominence in recent years. 

“However, the social factor in ESG, or the ‘S’ component, tends to be a bit more difficult to grapple with as it spans across a wide spectrum of concerns,” says Wilson Ang, Partner, Head of Asia Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright.

Some of these concerns can be quite egregious and may have criminal implications. Others that are less obvious, like workplace harassment, discrimination, and lack of engagement, are also important. CFOs need to be aware of the social issues that can have an impact on the company’s bottom line or potentially help to raise the top line, as there are financial advantages to getting this right. 

The range of social factors impacting a company is dependent on the types of business it engages in. On one hand, there are very serious social concerns that threaten basic, fundamental human freedom, which we should protect. These include human rights issues, modern slavery, forced labor and debt bondage. Other social concerns, such as workplace bullying, intimidation, sexual harassment and racial or religious discrimination, undermine human dignity that should be respected. 

“The protection and preservation of human diversity are also crucial in ensuring the equality of opportunities. Related workplace social factors include talent engagement and retention, learning and development programs, and ensuring responsible data use and protection. While these are historically perceived as “softer” social issues, they are increasingly taking center stage and will have teeth when they are eventually enshrined in legislation,” says Wilson Ang, Partner, Head of Asia Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright. 

For instance, Singapore’s Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) previously issued guidelines on driving fair and progressive employment practices and anti-discriminatory practices. This will soon gain the effect of law and be enshrined in legislation, thus opening doors for more quality opportunities. 

Ensuring A Safe And Equitable Workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated several social concerns that had already been in existence. Lockdowns, travel restrictions, vaccinations and even contact tracing have affected individuals physically, mentally, and emotionally. It also disproportionately affected migrant workers and brought several underlying social issues to light. 

People who were not able to work from home due to their existing environment and circumstances were disproportionately affected in terms of their livelihoods and income. Those who were able to work remotely also had to adjust to the new environment and faced pressures trying to prove that they are equally productive while working from home. There have also been stories of employees being intimidated or bullied online with increased remote working.

In addition, the pandemic and economic downturn have resulted in a number of retrenchment exercises; supply chain disruptions have also caused severe economic pressures. These have all contributed to a rise in anxiety and stress among employees.  

So what can companies do to ensure a safe and equitable workplace? 

“There is a clear need for companies to stay ahead of the evolving work environment and changing regulations. While a lot of the new working arrangements were implemented to meet business needs during the pandemic, there is value for companies to retain and institute those policies that help to foster greater equality opportunities. For example, work-from-home arrangements can benefit working parents, who might be able to better care for their children,” says Wilson Ang, Partner, Head of Asia Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright. 

Priorities Of Socially Conscious Companies

The shift to a hybrid work environment needs to be an ongoing conversation that companies have with their employees. The majority of the workforce has become used to working from home, and most would wish to retain and continue enjoying the flexibility and benefits of remote working. At the same time, employers who see the benefits of in-person team gatherings and collaborations may hold the view that working in an office outweighs a work-from-home arrangement.  

If return-to-office policies are implemented too quickly without consultation with broader teams, this might result in a mismatch of expectations and potentially impact team morale and confidence. Moving forward, organizations are expected to adopt a calibrated hybrid approach that balances out the expectations of the workforce with flexible working arrangements.  

“The social factor in ESG is fundamentally really about caring; caring about your employees and caring about the workplace environment that they are in,” says Wilson Ang, Partner, Head of Asia Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright. 

Promoting Ethical Business In Daily Internal and External Interactions

When it comes to the promotion of ethical businesses and being socially conscious, companies need to first conduct a materiality assessment. This assessment can be conducted along 2 axes and will help businesses to form a view on the issues that are material to them. The first axis focuses on the importance of the issue internally, such as to business operations and employees. The second axis focuses on the importance of the issue externally, including stakeholders, investors, local communities, and customers. 

Depending on where the issues are plotted against the axes, companies are then able to identify overlapping, material factors that are critical to both their business and stakeholders. 

The outcome of this materiality assessment will form part of a company’s strategic governance. Any company will benefit from knowing the material factors that they need to focus on and prioritize, as there are just too many things under the sun. This will help them to better develop strategies that are ethically sound and socially conscious. 

“All cases from a social perspective, such as workplace discrimination, bullying, intimidation and harassment issues, will increasingly take center stage as we gradually return to the office and bring along an increased focus on mental wellness. Organizations need to take these issues seriously and should have in place a trusted and open channel for employees to speak up, and businesses need to address them promptly and appropriately. This will help to protect the diversity of thought, expression, conscience and religion,” Wilson Ang, Partner, Head of Asia Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright. 

There will also be a greater focus on supply chain diligence given the spotlight on labor violations. In other words, modern slavery, forced labor, debt bondage, and more are issues that businesses need to be increasingly aware of and have policies for. These issues are especially prevalent in Asia, fueled by widespread poverty, migration, weak governance, and the abuse of cultural practices.

“That’s something that businesses in this part of the world need to be conscious of. Not just in their immediate employment workforce, but also the individuals and the companies that they work with up and down the supply chain,” says Wilson Ang, Partner, Head of Asia Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright. 

Leveraging the Social Criteria in ESG to Attract and Retain Employees

The pandemic has led to the global workforce doing a lot of rethinking and internalizing the role that they play in a company. Many are now questioning the real value and impact of their work and some have even expressed the desire to do more than just drive bottom line growth. 

“I think a certain degree of trust has broken down and employees are looking for a purpose beyond profit,” says Wilson Ang, Partner, Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright. 

These issues have led to what is known as the great resignation. In the aftermath of the pandemic, the great resignation has been followed by the great regret. People who shifted or quit their jobs and moved somewhere else, felt that the grass is not always greener on the other side. 

The great resignation is much like playing musical chairs with unsatisfactory jobs, and this is where the pandemic provides a good opportunity for companies to take stock, and give their employees room to search for purpose in their work so that they do not drift from one job to another.  

For employers trying to include social criteria into their ESG strategy, there should be meaningful workforce engagement opportunities for employees to be given a voice in major decisions and be treated as an important internal stakeholder. This allows them to have some involvement in crafting their own career path in conjunction with the broader corporate strategy. There must also be some investment in employees by providing training and upskilling them. As the saying goes, train them so well that they can go anywhere they want, but treat them so well that they want to stay. These are definitely opportunities not to be missed. 

Lazada Releases First ESG Impact Report


DigitalCFO Newsroom | 1 November 2022

Lazada’s first ESG impact report commemorates its tenth anniversary and mark the Group’s commitment to building a sustainable business and creating positive impact.

Southeast Asia’s leading eCommerce platform, Lazada, today released its first Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) Impact report, Shaping the Future of the Digital Economy for 2022. The report details the company’s efforts to leverage eCommerce as a force for good to uplift communities, champion accountable and sustainable business practices and manage its impact on the environment.

“As Lazada celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, we also celebrate 10 years of digital commerce in Southeast Asia. It is also a timely milestone to release our first ESG Impact report and I am pleased to share our progress in accelerating the growth of digital commerce in the region and making a difference through our operations,” said James Dong, Chief Executive Officer, Lazada Group. “This report is only the start of our journey. I am looking forward to stronger collaborations with our partners and stakeholders around how we can leverage our position as a leading eCommerce platform to shape the future of a sustainable digital ecosystem.”

The report unveils the company’s ESG framework and its four core pillars: Empowering Communities, Future-Ready Workforce, Responsible Stewardship, and Effective Governance. It highlights many notable achievements for the company under these pillars, including:

  • Empowering Communities:

– Positive socio-economic impact to support development across the region: Across its six markets, Lazada created 1.1 million economic opportunities[1] within its ecosystem of sellers, digital commerce enablers, third-party logistics partners and dedicated employees.

– Provision of services, infrastructure and capacity-building for the empowerment of Southeast Asian communities:

– Lazada’s commitment is to give back to societies and communities in recovery efforts and building a more resilient society. Initiatives such as Lazada’s COVID-19 and disaster relief responses across the markets have been in place since its early years.

– Lazada works with local stakeholders to develop programs that support women in their journeys to becoming entrepreneurs and celebrates female entrepreneurs who have overcome obstacles to grow their businesses successfully with Lazada. In March 2022, Lazada honored the achievements of 18 female entrepreneurs across the region on Lazada’s platform with the Lazada Forward Women Awards 2022.

  • Future-Ready Workforce:

– A diverse and inclusive work environment for employees: In the past two years, overall workforce across the Group has grown by 18%. Women make up 43% of Lazada’s workforce, a higher percentage than that of the overall technology industry in Southeast Asia at 32%[2].

– Development of skillsets and knowledge for the broader digital talent pool: Lazada established initiatives such as Lazada University, an exclusive education program to empower its sellers, and the Lazada Learning Festival 2022, the biggest virtual learning festival in Southeast Asia to educate and engage with the general public.

  • Responsible Stewardship:

– Lower carbon footprint: Lazada introduced a baseline carbon inventory to identify key sources of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission across its operations. The results from the carbon inventory exercises will serve to enhance Lazada’s decarbonization roadmap in the coming years and align with global ambitions to reduce GHG emissions.

– Reduced material uses and engage in a circular economy: RedMart, Lazada Singapore’s grocery arm, avoided approximately 30 tons of virgin plastic alone by switching RedMart Label water bottles to 100% recycled PET materials. 

  • Effective Governance

– Strengthened cybersecurity measures: Lazada is one of the few eCommerce platforms in Southeast Asia to be certified against the ISO 27001:2013 standards, an international standard for information security that sets out a holistic approach to securing the confidentiality.

– Best practices for intellectual property protection and processes: Lazada is the first Southeast Asian digital commerce company with a dedicated Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Protection Team. In March 2020, the team piloted a proactive detection and takedown of counterfeit goods, which resulted in 98% of proactive removals occurring before a transaction took place in 2021.

“The progress we made in the last few years has laid the groundwork for sustained success and momentum as we push forward with our ESG impact,” said Frank Luo, Chief Financial Officer, Lazada Group. “As Southeast Asia’s pioneer digital commerce platform, we are committed to enabling a sustainable and healthy ecosystem that connects buyers and sellers. Our approach is to adopt an ‘ecosystem mindset’, by increasing collaboration with our partners and stakeholders along our value chain to create a positive impact.”

Most recently, Lazada Logistics in Indonesia was also honored as the winner of the Responsible Consumption and Production (Plastic) category under the B20 Sustainability 4.0 Awards, a joint European-Indonesian project and a side event of B20 Indonesia 2022. The prestigious awards celebrate businesses and individuals that embed sustainable practices in their strategies and processes by embracing the environment and societies in their agenda.

Maxeon Solar Technologies Commences Supplier Sustainability Monitoring with STACS via ESGpedia


DigitalCFO Newsroom | 27 October 2022

A project to leverage holistic ESG data and digital tools on ESGpedia for monitoring the sustainability performance of suppliers in Maxeon’s end-to-end supply chain. 

Maxeon Solar Technologies (‘Maxeon’), a global leader in solar innovation and channels, today announced the commencement of supplier sustainability monitoring with Singapore-headquartered environmental, social, and governance (‘ESG’) fintech Hashstacs Pte Ltd (‘STACS’) via its ESGpedia platform, which powers the ESG Registry of the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (‘MAS’) Project Greenprint. 

Maxeon and STACS embarked on the project to leverage holistic ESG data and digital tools on ESGpedia for monitoring the sustainability performance of suppliers in Maxeon’s end-to-end supply chain. The ESGpedia platform enables Maxeon to select suppliers based on their emissions and provide greater transparency of its carbon footprint for its stakeholders. 

Lindsey Wiedmann, Chief Legal Officer and ESG Executive Sponsor, said: “Companies like Maxeon have a crucial role to play in accelerating the transition to a low carbon world. Thanks to STACS’ ESGpedia platform, we are now able to monitor our carbon footprint and potentially access new funding targeted for sustainable companies. STACS’ ESGpedia platform is also expected to enable financiers and investors to make better green investment decisions, resulting in a positive ESG cycle.”

A typical company’s supply chain accounts for majority of its greenhouse gas (‘GHG’) emissions. Progressively, companies are beginning to address ESG concerns to reduce the GHG emissions of their supply chain, while also improving labour conditions, efficiency and cost savings. However, there is a profound disconnect between the ESG data that companies need for effective supplier sustainability monitoring and decision-making, and what is available to them. 

Sharon Yuen, Chief Commercial Officer at STACS, said: “At STACS, we aim to support the diverse needs of corporates on their journey towards net zero via holistic ESG data and digital tools on ESGpedia. We are thrilled to have enabled Maxeon Solar Technologies to achieve better ESG credentials monitoring throughout their end-to-end global supply chain, propelling the firm forward in its strong commitment towards sustainability.”  

Valda Tsang, Director, Global Indirect Sourcing, Supply Chain at Maxeon, said: “We’re looking forward to what this new project in partnership with STACS can bring for Maxeon and our customers and investors. Via STACS’ ESGpedia platform we are now able to search for our suppliers’ company profiles digitally, request key ESG and certification data points such as CDP scores and more, to ensure they are meeting their ESG targets and are aligned with our own sustainability commitments.”

As a registry with a reliable record of sustainability certifications and verified ESG data across various sectors, ESGpedia provides corporates like Maxeon, financial institutions, and regulatory authorities a common point of access for holistic ESG data. This facilitates better tracking and analysis of suppliers’ sustainability commitments, impact measurement, and quelling of greenwashing fears.

As an aggregator of the most trusted data underpinning the financial sector’s ESG analyses, this also helps improve the management of ESG financial products, enhancing trust and potentially mobilising the necessary ESG capital for sustainable companies like Maxeon.

2022 ESG And Green Finance Opportunities: Navigating Climate Risk And Financing Climate


DigitalCFO Newsroom | 14 October 2022

There is a growing global demand for strengthened ESG regulatory compliance and disclosure in recent years.

Following the success of the inaugural “ESG and Green Finance Opportunities Forum” by The Chamber of Hong Kong Listed Companies (CHKLC) last year, the second edition of the event will return this year on October 27. With Hang Seng Bank’s continued support and title sponsorship, the 2022 Forum will be themed Navigating Climate Risk and Financing Climate Actions.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po has confirmed to deliver opening address while Secretary for Environment and Ecology Tse Chin-wan will give a luncheon speech. CHKLC’s Chairman Catherine Leung and Hang Seng Bank’s Executive Director and Chief Executive Diana Cesar will also speak at the opening ceremony. Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will participate in one of the panels.

Greater Global Demand To Raise Corporates’ ESG And Green Practices

There is a growing global demand for strengthened ESG regulatory compliance and disclosure in recent years. The Hong Kong bourse requires the filing of annual ESG reports with greater disclosure including climate-related financial disclosures, while the mainland’s securities regulator has called for mandatory disclosures to include environmental violation penalties, among others.

The extreme weather and energy crisis have further prompted investors to study the initiatives taken by businesses relating to carbon footprint reduction and the sustainability goals and practices of their operations.

In line with the mainland’s carbon peak and neutrality targets in 2030 and 2060, the Hong Kong Government is expected to launch additional green and carbon emissions reduction policies for the business community. Hang Seng Indexes Company has recently launched a climate-linked market tracker as a tool to help promote the city as a fundraising hub for green products.

Green financing market is thriving, and the global issuance of green, social, sustainability and sustainability-linked (GSSS) bonds is forecast to total US$1.7 trillion this year, representing 52 per cent year-on-year growth. All these latest developments have incentivised businesses to enhance their ESG and green practices.

AICPA & CIMA Executives Urge APAC Professionals To Seize ESG Agenda Opportunities


DigitalCFO Newsroom | 14 October 2022

82% of Chief Executive Officers see ESG as a value driver for their business over the next five years.

The leaders of the world’s largest body of accountants and finance professionals, AICPA & CIMA, urged the accounting and finance community in Asia Pacific to take the lead in guiding businesses and public bodies through the opportunities and risks presented by the environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda. 

Addressing business, accounting and financial professionals across Asia Pacific during CGMA Leadership Academy in Singapore, Global President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, set out how governments and market participants are driving the adoption of ESG reporting worldwide. He told them that the accounting profession must grasp the opportunity to provide advisory, assurance and strategic advice to help create the sustainable businesses of the future.

Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA, Chief Executive of Management Accounting emphasised that the finance profession has reached a point of once in a generation change. Stakeholders are demanding far more from it than in the past, including significant progress on the ESG agenda, and this will be a key value driver for the organisations they serve in the future. Both the executives called on finance professionals to play their part in shaping this agenda. 

Mr Harding and Mr Melancon emphasised that business performance can no longer be judged purely on short-term financial returns to shareholders. Intangible assets such as brand, employee purpose and technological know-how now make up a huge amount of an organisation’s value. Creating and sustaining this value is becoming the key role of the finance professional.        

They reminded their audiences that 82% of Chief Executive Officers see ESG as a value driver for their business over the next five years, and that the accounting and finance profession would be required to set its skills and competencies to the task of realising this ambition. By embracing the possibilities offered by the latest technology, they argued that accountants can improve an organisation’s integrated thinking and decision-making capabilities, and that in turn this can promote responsible and sustainable business practices.

The audience heard that the accounting and finance profession is very well placed to play a significant role in the move towards sustainable business practices. Finance teams have a unique ‘end to end’ view of their organisations, and already have responsibility for collecting and analysing corporate data. They will be the ones who can identify where changes and improvements can be made, and it will be their responsibility to lead the organisations they work in towards adopting and implementing these changes.

Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA, Chief Executive — Management Accounting at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, representing AICPA & CIMA, said:

“We are seeing increasing demand in Asia Pacific for our professional qualifications and training. This will grow the number of accounting and finance professionals who are able to manage the risks and grasp the opportunities presented by the ned to develop sustainable business models and drive economic growth. Along with technological developments which are revolutionising the profession, that means that accountants in Singapore have a once in a life-time chance to step up, instil trust and integrity, and lead the way in building the businesses of the future.” 

It’s More Important Than Ever For Leaders To Speak Up Around Social, Environmental & Political Issues


DigitalCFO Newsroom | 30 September 2022

More than half of respondents considering quitting because of mismatched values with their employer.

A new survey by Qualtrics, the leader and creator of the experience management category, found that 60% of respondents in Singapore believe it is more important than ever for leaders to speak out about social, environmental, and political issues. The survey also found that 54% of employees want leaders to speak out more about these issues, and half (50%) wanted their company to take more action to help address them

Findings from the study – based on 1,015 respondents from full- and part-time employees in Singapore – highlight the significant importance of shared purposes and values to a healthy employee-employer relationship, as well as how they are impacting retention and productivity.

More than half of respondents (54%) to the study said they are considering leaving their current employer because it does not exemplify the values they hold. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they would likely look to leave their employer if the company did not prioritise work-life balance (62%) or well-being (60%). Others said failure to prioritise diversity and inclusion (39%), social responsibility (34%), and environmental sustainability (26%) could make them look for a new job.

In contrast, 86% of respondents said they feel motivated to go above and beyond what’s expected of them when their employer’s mission, values, and vision align with their own.

Managers asked to talk the talk and walk the walk

Alongside a shift toward speaking out, leaders must demonstrate they are living the values themselves – particularly around health and wellbeing. Respondents said leaders were better at exemplifying respect, integrity, and advocating for diversity than they were work life balance and mental health.

For organisations wanting to attract, retain, engage, and enable talent – against a backdrop of the rising cost of living, heightened rates of burnout, and evolving employee attitudes, such as quiet quitting – the Qualtrics findings outline the value of tuning into the unique needs and expectations of their workforce. Equipped with a deeper understanding of what’s important to employees, companies can identify shared interests and prioritise the actions that will have the biggest positive impact on employees and customers.

“Many people are looking at their jobs, their companies, and work in general through a completely different lens than they were before the pandemic. For employers, this new perspective represents a significant opportunity to strengthen relationships with their teams, which can lead to improved wellbeing, higher engagement, greater retention of high-performers, and better outcomes for customers,” said Lauren Huntington, EX Solutions Strategy for Qualtrics in Southeast Asia.

Heidrick & Struggles Continues Advancing on ESG Journey


DigitalCFO Newsroom | 28 September 2022

Focuses on Placing Diverse Board Members and Executives, Promoting DE&I in the Workplace and Reducing GHG Emissions

Heidrick & Struggles’ second ESG report details ongoing focus on addressing ESG priorities, including diversity, equity and inclusion, governance and sustainability for its clients, employees and the firm’s own operations

Heidrick & Struggles, a premier provider of global leadership advisory and on-demand talent solutions, today released its 2021 ESG Report. Referencing both Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) frameworks, the firm’s second ESG report highlights how it has advanced on its ESG priorities and initiatives through its client work and for the firm’s own employees and global operations.

“In our role as trusted leadership advisors, we have the privilege of working with the world’s leading organizations on their most important talent, leadership, culture and organization needs,” said Krishnan Rajagopalan, President and CEO, Heidrick & Struggles. “ESG priorities are moving to the top of our clients’ agendas, and we are partnering with them a number of different ways, from placing Chief Sustainability Officers to working with Boards and companies that want to attract experienced ESG executives, and more. In addition, we are committed to being leaders in our own industry on the ESG front. We are intently focused on attracting and retaining great talent, living our firm’s purpose and values, building a thriving workplace, and incorporating best practices on sustainability, governance, leadership, culture, and DE&I across our own organization, and for our own employees.”

Key highlights from the 2021 report include:

Our Client Services

  • Globally, 67% of our cumulative slate of Board candidates initially proposed to our clients were diverse, exceeding our annual Board Diversity Pledge
  • 73% of our Board placements were diverse in the United States, and 68% globally1
  • 51% of our overall placements in the United States were diverse, and 49% globally1
  • Our work in our Sustainability and Social Impact Practices continued to grow and expand in scope
  • We published a report in partnership with INSEAD’s Corporate Governance Centre on how Boards are responding to climate change
  • We added on-demand talent to our service offering, addressing the growing demand for more fluid ways of working by independent consultants and companies hiring them

Our People and Culture

  • Women represented 69% of our new hires and 65% of our promotions, globally
  • People of color accounted for 35% of our new hires and 21% of our promotions in the United States
  • We offered work from home flexibility for our employees under our Flexible Workspace philosophy
  • We delivered more than 12,800 hours of learning and development to our employees globally through virtual, in-person and hybrid formats
  • As part of our ongoing commitment to support our employees’ mental health and wellbeing, we began recognizing World Mental Health Day as a holiday
  • We organized our third Global Day of Service with 35 offices participating around the world, continuing our commitment to give back to our communities where we live and work


  • We have a diverse and experienced Board of Directors; in 2021, 37% of our Board of Directors consisted of women, and 25% consisted of people of color
  • Our Board is committed to ongoing refreshment to meet the evolving needs of the firm, and the average tenure of our directors was 4.5 years
  • As a leading global professional services firm, we have developed a set of corporate values and a Code of Ethics that guide our firm’s culture, ensuring we hold ourselves to the highest professional ethical standards
  • In order to maintain the trust of our clients, candidates and employees, we have a comprehensive set of data protection and privacy programs, policies and practices deployed and maintained throughout our organization

Environmental Sustainability

  • For the first time, we measured and disclosed our full Scopes 1, 2 and 3 carbon footprint
  • We reduced carbon emissions by over 21% versus 2019, primarily due to a reduction in employee commuting, business travel and office footprint
  • We decreased global office square footage by 26% versus the previous year

“With this report, we are maintaining our commitment to holding ourselves accountable and measuring our ESG progress publicly on an ongoing basis, establishing key areas of focus and showing what we have achieved so far, and how much opportunity lies ahead,” said Tracey Heaton, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary, Heidrick & Struggles. “To best serve our employees, communities and stakeholders’ interests, we will continue being transparent about our progress on ESG metrics, including advancements in our DE&I, governance and sustainability efforts internally, and our progress supporting our clients on their ESG journeys.”

The Social Aspect In ESG


Fatihah Ramzi, DigitalCFO Asia | 26 September 2022

Understanding the “S” in ESG and its key factors.

How can a business manage its interactions with its employees, the society in which it conducts business, and the political landscape? The “S” in ESG, the social component of sustainable investing, stands for this fundamental query. The financial performance of a corporation can be impacted by a variety of social concerns, from immediate to long-term issues:

  • How might the needs of a company’s personnel and its makeup cause issues for the business in the future? Due to a shortage of competent workers or a scandal that harms a company’s brand, labor strikes or customer rallies can have a direct impact on a company’s profitability.
  • What dangers are associated with a product’s potential safety issues or the supply chain politics of a company? Businesses typically experience less unpredictability when they ensure that their goods and services don’t pose any safety issues and/or reduce their supply networks’ susceptibility to geopolitical crises.
  • What upcoming demographic shifts can cause the market to shrink? Long-term changes in customer choices are influenced by intricate social dynamics, such as spikes in online public sentiment, protests, and mass boycotts of certain companies. These can be taken into account by decision-makers as significant predictors of the company’s potential.

Social Factors in Practice

Although the social component of ESG can be divided into numerous components, the following five are typically included.


Although it might not seem like it, your company’s interactions with its staff, vendors, and clients can be analyzed quantitatively. Is the  company’s pay, for instance, consistent with those in the sector? How much staff turnover is there, and do employees enjoy their jobs? How do customers and suppliers feel about doing business with you and will they still support the company?

Not only do you want to know if customers have positive feelings about your business for marketing or sentimental reasons. The productivity and retention of employees are impacted by how a company treats its staff. From the standpoint of profitability, contented workers are more efficient, and low turnover is less expensive than frequent new hires. Relationships a business has with its wider social network, such as its clients and suppliers, can also directly benefit its bottom line.

Community Relations and Human Rights

Community relations deal with how your business affects or helps the neighborhood. Local sourcing, philanthropy, and hiring people from within the community are measurable factors. Since corporate activities can have an impact on regional surroundings, the ESG’s environmental component also has some crossover.

Human rights are a fundamental tenet of social evaluation in general. ESG initiatives should closely examine internal procedures and scan the supplier chain for human rights violations. Investors anticipate that a company will use due diligence to prevent supporting organizations with a bad track record on human rights, even though a company cannot be held accountable for every group it partners with. A certain source, usage of a specific product, or operating in a distinct geopolitical region are just a few examples of areas to take into consideration.

Workplace Health and Safety

Management of the environment, health, and safety (EHS) is an important consideration when assessing “S.” EHS is focused in the wellbeing and security of both employees and the environment. Since the epidemic, investor and public scrutiny of EHS has increased significantly. 

The public has denounced companies that seemed to put customers in danger without necessity and applauded others for their vigilance. Moving forward, inspection of EHS procedures at work is expected to stay at a high level. Workers’ compensation applications, workplace injuries, personal protective equipment (PPE) regulations, as well as other health and safety issues unique to your industry can all be measured.

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity affects a company’s profits directly and is progressively regulated. It is not merely about taking a politically correct stance. Recently there have been a lot of debate diversity policy suggestions. Legislation that was being proposed required a level of disclosure on the leadership’s gender, color, nationality, and veteran status as well as a number of other initiatives to broaden staff diversity. Businesses should develop genuine diversity objectives and strategies and get ready to answer to the public and governmental organizations. 

Enhancing company governance, luring top people, and developing human capital are all critical elements driving long-term competitiveness. Internal policies supporting gender diversity are a sign of a well-managed business that understands the importance of diversity in fostering innovation and raising production, as well as enhancing employee well-being.

Political Ties

Political allegiances and contributions rank among the social evaluation criteria’s most visible and recognisable components. Politically motivated sanctions have a longstanding history and can seriously harm a brand’s reputation. Investors will want to assess the potential political consequences the business may face in the future and understand how the company interacts with political groups, leaders, and laws.

Additionally, investors might wish to confirm that there aren’t any major disputes with their own political views. Politics cannot be performative, like all other ESG components, as they will be evaluated using quantitative metrics and contrasted with the messaging of the company.

The “S” in ESG Matters

Similar to the other ESG components, social metrics and criteria give investors more assurance that the business will not succumb to the dangers present in the sector. Additionally, building goodwill within and outside of the organization and providing investors with a business they can be proud to support have merit. Companies may prevent possible catastrophes and have a beneficial impact by keeping a close eye on how the people in their labor force, community, and industry are being handled.