As a developer with a strong legacy, we are committed to our vision of creating value, shaping future by conducting our business operations in a manner that practises high standards of corporate governance, as well as considers the environmental and social impact to sustain profitable growth.
UOL has been included as a constituent member of the iEdge SG ESG Indices (formerly known as SGX Sustainability Indices) since its launch in 2016, thus affirming our status as one of the leading organisations in environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices in Singapore.
Our performance and case studies are reported in our sustainability reports here.
UOL is committed to maintaining high standards of corporate governance and business conduct to safeguard the interests of our key stakeholders. The Group’s core values articulate our expectations on corporate social responsibility. Our corporate governance practices are set out with specific references to the principles and guidelines of the Code of Corporate Governance (Code) issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
We aim to achieve zero incidents of non-compliance, which includes incidences of anti-competition, corruption and breach of data privacy. In line with our zero tolerance for non-compliance, we are committed to improving our processes to achieve our target.
Board and Management Roles
The principal responsibilities of the Board include reviewing UOL’s strategic business plans, taking into account sustainability (environmental, social and governance) issues which could impact the business. Since 2016, the Board oversees the management of material sustainability issues and their performance indicators. The Board also approves the annual sustainability report.
The Board is supported by the Sustainability Steering Committee and Sustainability Coordinating Committee. The steering committee comprises the Group Chief Executive, Chief Executive Officer (Hotels) and other members of the Senior Management team. It makes key decisions, including materiality assessment. The steering committee is supported by two working committees, representing the property business and hospitality arm respectively. They include representatives across departments including Corporate Communications & Investor Relations, Finance, Human Resource, Investment, Legal & Secretariat, Marketing, Project Development and Property & Engineering and Hotel Operations. Each business has the autonomy to develop targets and plans, with due consideration to each unique operating environment. Industry benchmarking of environmental and social performance is conducted at least annually.
The governance structure of sustainability permeates functions and seniority, ensuring that sustainability is integrated both at strategic and operational levels102-46.
The Board is responsible for the governance of risk. It has delegated the Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) to assist the Board in the oversight of risk management and internal control systems within the Group. The Group Risk Management Committee (GRMC), chaired by the Group Chief Executive and comprising senior members of the Management from both the property and hospitality businesses, oversees the direction, implementation and running of the Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) programme. The GRMC reports to the ARC on the status of the ERM programme, and the key risks, controls and treatment plans every half-yearly or more frequently as needed.
The ERM programme consolidates the Group’s risk management practices in a structured framework, and aims to increase confidence in the Group’s businesses through assurance that key risks are systematically managed. The Management reviews on a regular basis and is accountable for the key risks, both existing and emerging, as well as identifies the key risk indicators and takes necessary control measures to address and mitigate these key risks.
Key management staff actively participated in the ERM programme, including training sessions and workshops. Employees in both the property and hospitality businesses get to acquire an adequate understanding of ERM concepts to enable them to manage risks in their respective areas of work, and collectively participate in and contribute to the ERM programme so as to enhance the Group’s internal controls and enable the Group to remain sustainable in the long term.
Sustainability considerations broadly classified under strategic, environmental, social/governance and economic aspects, are embedded into the ERM, through integration of identified material issues.
These considerations include climate change-related events, water scarcity issues and socio-political unrest that may affect business operations.
As we pursue a sustainable, long-term growth path, we will continuously reinforce a ‘risk-aware’ culture with the ERM programme embedded into our businesses and operations.
The ERM programme is substantively in line with best practices, including those contained in the Risk Governance Guidance for Listed Boards, as released by the Corporate Governance Council on 10 May 2012.
Code of Business Conduct
Our Code of Business Conduct (CBC) sets out expectations of employees in relation to issues such as fraud, bribery, conflicts of interests, anti-competitive conduct, harassment, health, safety and environment. It directs employees to consult their Heads of Department or Human Resource representatives in case of queries or issues. All employees are required to review and affirm their compliance with the CBC annually.
Anti-Corruption and Anti-Fraud
UOL adopts a zero-tolerance stance towards fraud and corruption.
All new hires are briefed on the CBC which states our firm position against fraud and corruption. The Board, through its Audit & Risk Committee (ARC) has in place processes to monitor and address any fraud or corruption issues. For contracts with key suppliers and contractors, they are required to acknowledge that UOL does not tolerate corruption and/or fraud and they shall comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
The Internal Audit (IA) department assesses all company departments for the risk of corruption & bribery.
In relation to the CBC, a whistle-blowing policy is in place to encourage and provide a channel for employees and external parties dealing with employees to report, in good faith and confidence, concerns about possible fraud, improprieties in financial reporting and other matters. Contact details of the Head, Internal Audit are disclosed on the corporate website. He is responsible for investigating any concerns raised and reporting findings to the ARC, independent of Management.
Our dedication towards innovative design and quality excellence in the buildings we develop has won us several awards and accolades, including the prestigious FIABCI Awards.
Green buildings are an important feature to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially in a densely populated city like Singapore. We target to have all our new development of investment properties in Singapore to be certified to at least Green Mark Gold.
We are mindful of users’ needs, including people with disabilities and parents with young children, who visit our properties. We integrate appropriate features where relevant, drawing reference to the Code on Accessibility 2013 by BCA. We explore ways to preserve the environment’s inherent character and cultural heritage, and incorporate environmentally-friendly features where commercially feasible.
Service quality is important to our hospitality business. Our service excellence is recognised by the industry and guests alike. The Group’s hospitality brands, “Pan Pacific” and PARKROYAL, apply a unique experience in terms of quality service to make our guests feel at home.
Internal checks are conducted to ensure adherence to brand standards. We continue to benchmark our performance using an external Quality Assurance specialist, in addition to close monitoring of satisfaction surveys and reviews on multiple platforms. Each hotel will incorporate areas for improvement from the audits into the action plan.
One of our core competencies is seamless efficiency in our hospitality business. To achieve this operational excellence, we focus heavily on the development of our human capital and invest in customer-oriented technology. One example is the provision of consolidated services through a single department. Majority of our properties have implemented our proprietary Service One or One Connect System, which is a comprehensive 24/7 one-stop service system where our guests can connect to during their stay. This system allows us to be connected to our guests and respond to their requests more expediently, whether they are matters internal or external to our hospitality business.
We also use a hospitality reputation management software platform. It integrates feedback across review sites such as TripAdvisor, social media platforms such as Facebook, as well as our online Electronic Guest Comment Card (EGCC). Feedback is aggregated on a real-time basis, allowing us to be responsive. Our guest feedback helps us to improve our operations, for example, serving as a key input in our capital expenditure. The software platform allows for comparison of guest reviews and feedback between selected peers, thus enabling us to remain competitive at all times.
Guest satisfaction scores form an important component in our balanced score card, where review scores from our online reputation management tool and negative reviews response coverage are closely monitored. The balanced scorecard applies to senior executives and is reported on a monthly basis to the Senior Management.
Being conscientious in conserving and protecting the environment is embedded in UOL’s core values. Environmental sustainability is a key thrust of our corporate social responsibility framework.
Environmental Policy and Management System
We demonstrate our commitment in our policies, and develop management systems to measure, monitor and review environmental performance on at least a quarterly basis. The policies, management systems and targets were developed and tailored separately for property and hospitality businesses.
UOL recognises that our business activities form an integral part of the environment and thus is committed to conserving and protecting the environment in which we operate. We strive to be a good corporate citizen by continually improving our environmental performance.
For our property business, we are committed to:
Our property business achieved the ISO 14001 certification in 2015. Environmental performance is reviewed quarterly and benchmarked on an annual basis against the industry as well as selected peers.
For development projects, all our main contractors are required to submit quarterly reports on energy and water consumption.
For our hospitality business, we are committed to:
Guided by the above commitments, each hotel develops its own initiatives. An environmental champion and a cross-functional environmental team are established at each hotel. Environmental data is reported and analysed on a monthly basis to the Director of Engineering. Energy intensity is a key indicator that is reported regularly to the Chief Executive Officer (Hotels).
Managing our carbon footprint is part of our environmental responsibility in response to climate change concerns, and prepares our organisation to operate in low carbon societies.
For land-scarce Singapore, where there is limited space for landfill, proper waste and resource management is important.
In our selection of construction materials, we encourage and support the use of Green Label products, such as precast lightweight concrete wall, wheel stoppers, subsoil drainage cells, solid surface for cabinetry works, precast drains or road kerbs and adhesive for cabinetry work. Our target of achieving at least Green Mark Gold certification for our new investment properties is aligned with our aim to use recycled and sustainable building materials.
Recycling initiatives are implemented across our diverse portfolio. Recycling bins are placed in all our properties. We also recycle old computers and toners, and distribute unused paints from hotel upgrading for community projects such as day care improvements.
Raising Environmental Awareness
We believe in starting our efforts from ‘home’ to nurturing an environmentally conscious culture. Environmentally-friendly tips are shared with employees regularly through our ‘Think Green’ initiative. Signs and stickers are displayed prominently to remind users to switch off lights and computers when not in use to conserve energy.
To encourage sustainable retail operations, we provide a summary of tips on energy and water conservation, reduced or sustainable packaging, recycling, and selection of non-toxic cleaning chemicals.
In our hospitality business, guests are encouraged to consider and communicate preferences on initiatives to reduce environmental impact, such as reusing towels and linen and declining newspapers.
We recognise the potential impact resulting from the loss of biodiversity, particularly in developing properties and landscaping at our hotel properties. In Singapore, the significance of biodiversity loss is minimised largely due to the urban environment our properties are developed in. Under current regulations and practices, the tender site is usually cleared before the bidding process takes place. Our developments adhere strictly to the National Parks Board’s requirements, for example, that mature trees or rare species are conserved or transplanted wherever possible.
Human capital is the Group’s key asset and focus in our business strategy. Our culture of competitiveness, commitment, competency, creativity, collaboration and caring, shapes our people and drive our Group forward. We are committed to developing the full potential of our employees and providing them with a safe and healthy work environment.
Talent Attraction and Retention
We acknowledge that attracting and retaining talent requires a holistic approach, which may differ across industries and demographics. To this end, we aim to provide a conducive work environment, a fair and competitive remuneration package, development opportunities and work-life balance. We also engage staff on various formal and informal platforms for effective two-way communication.
The human capital landscape remains challenging with foreign labour quotas in Singapore, especially in the labour-intensive hospitality industry. We place a strong emphasis on building an environment where employees feel cared for and are respected, so that they can enjoy their work in a collegial environment, and to stay and grow with our organisation.
We take pride in our culture of work-life balance and healthy lifestyle, and recognise the importance and support of our employees’ families. We also foster a supportive and encouraging environment for our employees with children and dependents. The Group offers paternity leave to working fathers whose child is not a Singapore citizen, even though paternity leave is only applicable to employees whose child is a Singapore citizen under the Ministry of Manpower’s regulation. Examples of other employee initiatives include complimentary health screening, Fruits Day and sports tournaments. These programmes are reviewed annually based on the feedback from employees.
We recognise the importance of engaging employees and take a keen interest in sharing and interacting with our people. Besides formal engagement channels, the Management participates in events such as dinner and dance and Chinese New Year Lo-hei celebrations, which provide an informal setting for interaction, support and rapport building.
New hires learn about our history, vision and mission, and core values as part of the on-boarding process. Townhall meetings provide a regular two-way communication opportunity for Senior Management to update employees on the state of the business, and for employees to share their concerns and feedback. We organise townhall meetings which are normally held at our showflats and other completed projects where possible, so that employees have the opportunity to see the product of their contributions. Our hospitality business conducts an annual “Our People, Voices & Views Associate Satisfaction Survey” to receive feedback.
Diversity and Inclusion
We believe that a diversified team with different age groups, backgrounds and skillsets will bring forth broader and more enriching perspectives to the workplace. We recruit, develop and reward our employees in a fair and inclusive manner, as demonstrated by our pledge in support of The Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP). We are committed to non-discrimination by age, race, gender, religion, marital status and family responsibilities, or disability.
Especially for our hospitality business, it is a business imperative that our employees embrace diversity – in cultures, value systems, opinions, experiences and skills. The values of our hospitality business set out rules of engagement – collaborating, communicating openly, recognising and valuing diversity – to help guide our behaviour at all times.
At the same time, we recognise that creating jobs for the local community is a significant way we contribute to the society. Further, it is critical to have perspectives that can help us understand the expectations of stakeholders in the local context. A significant proportion of the total workforce in our hospitality business are Singaporeans or Permanent Residents.
Retiring employees are recognised as assets to the organisation, given their skills, knowledge and understanding of our culture and expectations. We adopted the practice of re-hiring retirees since 2010, prior to the implementation of The Retirement and Re-Employment Act. Retired employees who were certified medically fit and had at least satisfactory performance are re-hired on yearly contracts.
Remuneration and Performance Appraisal
A fair system of appraisal underscores our remuneration system. We adopt an open appraisal system for our employees, through which they discuss and agree on targets for the next cycle and their personal and career development goals. This encourages a greater ownership of roles as we work hand-in-hand with our employees to hone their strengths for future growth. All employees are appraised at least annually.
Core competencies for the various levels are identified and employees are appraised in this area for a more balanced assessment. Besides the formal annual appraisal, supervisors are advised to give feedback to their staff on a continuous basis.
Remuneration packages are reviewed regularly to ensure what we offer is relevant and competitive. Salary benchmarking surveys by external consultants are conducted annually. Remuneration is structured to reward collective, as well as individual performance. Executives who are eligible are granted share options as part of our long-term incentive for staff retention.
People are our leading asset. We recognise the need to constantly enhance and develop our employees. Apart from ensuring that our organisation maintains a competitive advantage in the face of constant challenges, developing our employees’ abilities also serves to motivate and retain talent. Actual training requirements are planned based on organisational and industry needs.
Our learning and development roadmap focuses on building functional and core competencies in our people. This roadmap is constantly reviewed and enhanced to ensure its relevance and suitability.
Besides improving commercial skillsets, we believe in the importance of building a culture of accountability and teamwork. This culture stems from an ethos of self-awareness and personal responsibility. We invest in training to empower our employees with tools and frameworks, with the aim of achieving better relationships in their professional and personal lives.
We have refreshed our talent identification exercise to include robust talent profiling. We have conducted talent assessment exercises for in-depth understanding of talents of potential and existing leaders across the Group.
Our hospitality business epitomises a service-oriented industry that employs full-time employees supplemented by seasonal workforce. High level of training of our employees is essential to keep our guests satisfied with our service quality while achieving operational excellence. We train all our employees to provide a consistent level of service quality. As we strive to elevate guest experience and pursue new business opportunities, we set strengthening our people’s development as a strategic priority. Our training curriculum comprises service and management courses that comprehensively meet the varying learning needs of our employees. To augment face-to-face training delivery, we use video learning methodologies that fit the learning profile of our executive learners and Senior Management.
To attract and retain our talent in this highly competitive industry, our hospitality business has in place targeted talent development tracks for General Management, Operational Management, as well as Functional/Non-operational Management. The duration of each programme lasts between 12 and 18 months. This ensures that talent is identified and nurtured for different employee categories, with consideration for varied aspirations and skills that are critical for our business.
Building on the Group-wide talent identification programme, we introduced two talent development programmes to provide qualifying talents with the skills and competencies needed to assume key leading positions. A number of talents in these programmes have already embarked on leading roles within our hospitality business.
Construction Workers Welfare
We recognise the important role played by workers employed by our main contractors. We go beyond adhering to the Ministry of Manpower’s requirements and guidelines, which address the accommodation, benefits and welfare of construction workers. Thus, we require our main contractors to achieve the Green and Gracious Builder Scheme certification. This certification is awarded by BCA for contractors that implement a certain standard in environmental and social practices. Welfare issues for construction workers include clean dormitories, proper sanitary facilities and systems for communication.
We are committed to creating a safe and healthy environment for people to live, work and play. Beyond ensuring compliance with regulations such as the Workplace Safety and Health Act and Fire Safety Act, we seek to proactively minimise health and safety risks.
Workplace Health and Safety
We are committed to working closely with main contractors to provide a safe and healthy workplace for our projects under construction. Any incidents on site resulting in serious injuries or death must be reported to our project managers immediately. Other incidents will be reported at site meetings, which are conducted at least bi-weekly. Safety performance reports of our main contractors are submitted quarterly to project managers.
We require all our main contractors to be OHSAS 18001 certified or equivalent. On top of quarterly safety reports, main contractors are required to report all reportable injuries at site meetings and submit details of such cases.
All accidents on our premises reported to the property or hotel management are recorded, regardless whether the injured is our employee, contractor, tenant, guest or visitor. Our priority is to assist the injured, investigate these incidents thoroughly and institute measures to prevent recurrence to our best efforts.
Guest Safety and Security
As one of the most established hotel groups in Asia, guest safety and security is of paramount importance to us, and identified as a critical operational risk in our hospitality business. It is our duty to ensure that our guests and their belongings are safe in our premises.
Our guests frequently include dignitaries. Accordingly, our security practices must be able to meet demanding standards. Security measures deployed consider the vulnerability of the site and conditions. Security is strengthened where higher risk may be expected, for example, an increase threat of terrorism when international discussions are hosted in Singapore.
The Head of Security at each hotel and serviced suites property manages a team of trained security personnel that support round-the-clock camera surveillance in common areas and patrols.
Each property in our hospitality business has a Fire, Health and Safety Committee. The Committee meets monthly, and minutes are displayed on all departmental notice boards. The Committee is tasked to keep abreast of safety issues for hospitality. Safety drills and campaign programmes are run regularly to provide timely reinforcement on safety and security. Employees are trained to take ownership of their own safety and security, as well as that of their work areas and guests.
Food Safety and Hygiene
Food safety and hygiene is highly regulated in Singapore. To deliver the best experience for our guests, we exercise due care to maintain the consistency and quality of food throughout the food handling process. Led by the Executive Chef, who is part of each hotel’s Management team, food safety and hygiene is managed through a robust plan-do-check-act process. External audits are undertaken annually, and action plans are developed based on recommendations proposed. In 2018, a comprehensive Food Safety Management System (FSMS) was launched. The programme includes extensive food safety training along with external audits along the entire food chain, from receipt of raw produce, preparation to delivery. The programme enhances our existing procedures and helps cultivate best practice in our food safety culture.
Our approach to community development has three facets. Firstly, we aim to build long-term partnerships with a strategic focus. Secondly, we encourage staff volunteerism as a platform for employees to give back to society and bond through meaningful activities. Lastly, we use our space and skills to generate awareness for social causes.
We focus our community efforts on children, youth, education, sports and the arts. The beneficiaries that we support include Care Corner Student Care Centre, Riding for the Disabled Association Singapore and Very Special Arts Singapore (VSA).
Our employees are also encouraged to volunteer their time to light up the lives of the less fortunate through staff volunteering activities. Click here for the list of activities that we have held over the years.
In addition, case studies demonstrating our contribution to the community are reported in our sustainability reports here.