From big chaebol groups to fledgling startups, South Korean businesses on Tuesday pledged to work together to revamp the nation’s rigid corporate culture and seek innovation in dealing with social challenges.
An event hosted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced the “New Entrepreneurship” initiative, under which they plan to carry out joint and individual projects to create more jobs and tackle other social issues such as climate change.
A total of 76 entrepreneurs, including Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun, Samsung Electronics President Lee In-yong and SK Group’s Supex Council social value committee chief Lee Hyung-hee, have signed up to join the new initiative.
Top tech companies such as Coupang, Woowa Brothers, Toss and Kurly also joined the new corporate push.
Mimicking similar bodies like the Business Roundtable in the US and the Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe, the KCCI also launched a new entity, called Entrepreneurship Roundtable, or ERT, to promote and support related activities.
The KCCI added it is also considering setting up an evaluation system to monitor progress made at individual work sites.
“Businesses will embrace a new role in tackling new challenges like digital transformation, climate change and falling birth rates,” said SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won who doubles as the KCCI chief.
“Beyond profit seeking, we will make efforts to grow together with all stakeholder groups, including employees, suppliers and the community.”
“Changes are already being made. Many companies are announcing plans to create more jobs for younger generations. This is a voluntary promise to help our society make progress in a good way,” he added.
Chung, the Hyundai Motor chief who joined the event in-person, called the initiative “a path that has never been taken but a sure way toward innovation.”
“The new initiative that extends the role of businesses to elevating social values should be the answer to pollution and climate change,” he said in his congratulatory remarks.
He added the auto giant will realize carbon neutrality in the whole automotive cycle from production to disposal by enhancing its push for full-electric and hydrogen mobility and the R100 renewable pledge.
In a recent survey by the KCCI, the largest 29.6 percent of the 706 respondents picked improving corporate culture as the most urgent issue businesses should handle, followed by environmental efforts (25.6 percent), ethical management (18.3 percent), shared growth with the community (15.3 percent) and future growth drivers (11.2 percent).
Based on the survey results, the KCCI decided five key areas to carry out joint and individual projects.
As joint projects, companies pledged to add more quality jobs for young people, create a flexible corporate culture for life-work balance and use less plastic at work sites.
When it comes to individual challenges, Hyundai Motor Group said it is offering financial and networking support for startups, while Woowa Brothers, the operator of the delivery app Baedal Minjok, said it is joining hands with small restaurant owners for management consultations.
Viva Republica, the operator of the banking app Toss, said it is sharing all information with employees to create a transparent corporate culture. Hanwha’s Happy Sunshine project donates air purifiers for children at kindergartens and schools.
By Lee Ji-yoon (email@example.com