Social Capital Matters

What businesses need to know to thrive

A series of conversations with thinkers, leaders and change-agents exploring how organisations build social capital with their stakeholders in today’s complex, interconnected and volatile times.

Social capital matters with Kylie Taylor


Asia is redefining old concepts of East & West, left & right | David Black

Asia’s business landscape has seen rapid change over the past few years, with old structures and hierarchies making way for a dynamic new social and cultural landscape. To stay ahead of the curve, any company that wants to do business in Asia must know how to react to these changes while understanding that the old rules of “East vs West” simply don’t apply anymore. On the other end of the scale, Asian companies need to be especially ready to meet the needs of Gen X and Gen Alpha, who are looking for more than just a paycheck and a desk if they want to stay engaged in their work and loyal to their employers.

David Black is founder and CEO of Blackbox, one of the region’s leading research and advisory firms, specialising in decision science solutions. By gathering data, talking to people, and analysing trends, Blackbox provides its clients with solutions to problems and advice on how to navigate social changes before they occur.

Selective transparency won’t fool the media | Sharanjit Leyl

The sheer number of ways a journalist can do their job nowadays is staggering, and doing business amid a connected and inquisitive media landscape can be intimidating. With the power of social media and online platforms, news spreads rapidly, and any misstep or questionable behaviour by a company can quickly lead to reputational damage, loss of customer trust, and a decline in sales. Implementing processes that prioritise transparency, ethical practices, and open communication is vital, and understanding how the media works when building stories on these issues is an important skill to have. 

Sharanjit Leyl is a veteran business journalist and commentator. She’s spent 18 years working for the BBC throughout Asia Pacific and around the world, interviewing some of the world’s top political and business leaders as well as moderating and chairing a wide range of panels and conferences.

Ignoring sustainability is no longer an option | Dr Darian McBain

As ESG issues continue to play a role in the public discourse, companies must be sure to reflect these ideals in their day-to-day operations to reduce their ecological footprint, promote fair labour practices, and enhance accountability. By the same token, the days of claiming ignorance when supply chain abuses come to light are over. In today's interconnected world, consumers demand transparency and accountability from the companies they support. It is only by embracing ESG principles and implementing supply chain transparency that companies can build a positive brand image and foster long-term success.

Dr Darian McBain is a globally experienced Chief Sustainability Officer, and a world recognised expert, speaker and author on sustainability, ESG, supply chains, business human rights and sustainable finance. Currently she is the head of OCSO, a Singapore-based advisory firm that enables businesses to run a sustainability function without hiring a full-time chief sustainability officer.

Employees are calling the shots as workplace power shifts | Sue Stoneman

The workplace has gone through a rapid and consequential shift over the past few years, not only in the form of the ‘great resignation’ but also in how companies communicate with their stakeholders. To attract and retain staff companies must also understand that employees don’t just want to know what a company does – they want to know why they do it. Understanding how to embed these values in a company culture can quickly mean the difference between success and irrelevancy.

Sue Stoneman is founder and chairperson of NKD, a world-renowned agency that helps organisations evolve into a company and brand that their employees fall in love with and stay in love with. In her time at NKD she has worked with companies as varied as airlines, banks, logistics companies and supermarkets. Her globe-spanning list of clients include some of the world’s largest companies who boast some of the most engaged workforces in their industry, and are the envy of their competitors.

Purpose is about solving real problems | Christian Ihre

Embedding purpose in a company's culture provides a guiding light that aligns employees, stakeholders, and strategies towards a common goal. More than simply a vision of where a company wants to end up, purpose is deeply ingrained in a company's culture, fostering a sense of meaning and fulfilment that attracts like-minded employees, customers, and partners who are passionate about the company's values and contribute to its growth. But how does a company with no defined purpose find one? More importantly, how does it embed it in the company culture in an organic and authentic way?

Christian Ihre is the co-founder of Lynxeye, a strategy consultancy that helps companies navigate transformative shifts to find their purpose and make a real difference in the lives of their customers and employees. As companies think more about customer preferences, regulatory change, skills shortages and technology disruption, Lynxeye helps companies see that the future will belong to companies who take bold steps to make a difference.

Cultural literacy is key to success in the age of distrust | Melissa O’Neill

Corporate communications plays a crucial role in shaping and maintaining a company's culture, communicating its purpose, values, and key messages both internally and externally. But while the core skills have remained largely unchanged over the years, the business environment is much different. Not only do corporate communications leaders create a culture of trust, collaboration, and engagement within the organisation, it contributes to shaping a positive brand image and reputation through strategic storytelling and engaging external stakeholders.

Melissa O'Neill is one of Australia’s leading corporate affairs professionals and has played a critical role in advising senior executives on public affairs, sustainability, reputation management and crisis communications. She is passionate about getting leadership teams to take a holistic view encompassing the total stakeholder environment.