On the warm, sunlit afternoon of 18 January 2013, staff from DTZ Singapore got into their T-shirts, Bermudas, shorts and such, and literally rolled up their sleeves. Their aim was: to “vandalise” the walls of Singapore’s Institute of Mental Health (IMH) with graffiti – legally of course.
DTZ Singapore had partnered with home-grown social enterprise – Social Creatives – to engage the wider community beyond the confines of real estate business. Social Creatives specialises in community art, and with the Singapore government’s endorsement, had already beautified a number of public spaces with colourful murals ranging from striking showpieces to poignant vignettes of Singapore society, particularly focusing on the general populace living in the heartlands. While bringing the optimism of vibrant colours to the people at IMH was the next step for the social enterprise, it was a first foray into community art for DTZ Singapore.
A team of 27 colleagues, led by DTZ SEA’s Chief Operating Officer Ong Choon Fah, participated in the exercise, and over the course of the afternoon produced two art pieces, one of which is a cheery mural that featured verdant grassland cast against a clear blue sky; a flight of birds gently sailing across the expanse; lots of flowers flushed mellow pink; and, in the foreground, a vivacious butterfly – representing the recent transformational merger of DTZ with UGL Services – tremendously enjoying it all. Talk about happiness!
DTZ SEA’s COO, Ong Choon Fah said: “We never expected to be able to paint a beautiful mural, but with some coaching and coaxing from the experts at Social Creatives, we actually unearthed some hidden talent! The event was a learning moment for us as it reinforces the time-honoured maxim that teamwork can help us achieve goals beyond the abilities of individuals. I hope that this collaboration will open our hearts and minds to spread kindness, and spur us on to more volunteerism and community engagement.”
In a milieu permeated by email, social networks, online portals, e-services and other artefacts of the electronic world, Social Creatives’ hands-on, bricks-and-mortar approach strikes a clear symbolic relationship with a number of DTZ’s core businesses including residential sales and leasing, township and facilities management.
Ong Choon Fah added: “While electronic platforms have enabled us to bring our value propositions to an entirely new level, at the end of the day, we still need first-hand, face-to-face interaction with clients and communities in the real world. As we tread the path of progress, we must always link what we do back to the fundamentals of our business so as to maintain a clear vision of where we are going and what we eventually hope to achieve. It is for this reason that our collaboration with Social Creatives takes on a deeper meaning.”
Coupled with a Go-Green exercise in 2012 that encouraged staff to conserve, reuse, recycle and reduce waste, DTZ Singapore’s collaboration with Social Creatives represents a broader and concerted effort towards corporate social responsibility, which earlier saw the firm signing up as a member of Singapore Compact, a national society committed to promoting corporate social responsibility amongst companies in Singapore.