Solid principles of service, fairness and progress for all have been the foundation of the SM group’s holding firm towards becoming more sustainable since it was founded by Henry Sy, Sr. about six decades ago.
“Our journey on sustainability is shown by how the group has grown and how we think about our responsibilities. It is about how we do our business by looking after all our stakeholders,” Tim Daniels, consultant and head of investor relations at SM Investments Corp., said in a recent environmental, social and governance (ESG) forum from BusinessWorld.
Since its incorporation, SM’s ecosystem has grown to consist of hundreds of thousands of employees, more than 80,000 micro, small and medium enterprises, customers in the millions, plus properties and businesses all over the country.
SM said it has aimed to create value as a responsible business for its longevity and resilience. At present, this has been tested by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many to seek a win-win strategy for all, it added.
“How do we create value and how do we share that value? That’s our starting point for how we think about sustainability and with that mindset under the COVID 19 experience, it made decision-making quick because it starts with our stakeholders,” Mr. Daniels said.
SM said it focused on safety, innovation and resilience as a strategy to ensure its employees and customers have a safe and sanitized environment aligned with protocols.
Adjustments have been made on how stakeholders access products and services, while meaningful support has been given to sectors that needed them most.
Mr. Daniels said the company was rewarded by investors who now understand the company and its sustainability story better.
For its sustainable growth, SM focused on providing inclusive economic opportunities through multiple partnerships; creating positive social impact;
practicing environmental responsibility and embracing good corporate governance with the objective of building an ecosystem of vibrant local economies.
“Since investors have been understanding us better, that multiple (or premium to the Philippine market) has widened, even faster than our earnings have grown. It’s because people have recognized the quality of company that we are. As it goes on, we start to look at more technical ways to engage and that for us is a positive journey,” Mr. Daniels said.
He expects greater demand for stronger sustainability practices and reporting as industries globally introduce new measurements, frameworks and metrics to cater to investors who value sustainability.
“We shouldn’t lose focus on what are the material things to our company and what it needs to do to be responsible. Thinking sustainably leads your investments into the right areas,” Mr. Daniels said.