OXFORD BROOKES UNIVERSITY

Skills and Learning Statement
for
Topic 20: PLUS Expressways Berhad’s Corporate Social Responsibility Policies, including Business Ethics and their Impact on Business Practice and Key Stakeholders

(1,971 Words)

Being a Research and Analysis Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of

BSc (Hons) in Applied Accounting Oxford Brookes University

By

Name

:

ACCA Registration Number : Submission Date :

Contents Page

SKILLS AND LEARNING STATEMENT
1. LESSONS LEARNED FROM MEETINGS WITH PROJECT MENTOR 1

2. EXTENT TO WHICH RESEARCH QUESTIONS HAVE BEEN ANSWERED

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3. DEMONSTRATION OF INTERPERSONAL AND COMMUNICATION SKILLS DURING PROJECT WORK

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4. BENEFITS OF UNDERTAKING THE RAP IN ACCOUNTANCY STUDIES AND/OR CURRENT EMPLOYMENT ROLE

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PRESENTATION SLIDES
OVERVIEW OF PRESENTATION MICROSOFT POWER POINT SLIDES 7 9

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Skills and Learning Statement Question 1: What did you learn from the meeting with your Project Mentor, including the presentation that you gave to your Project Mentor? There are many learning outcomes from meeting with my project mentor. While most have a direct impact on the project, others are more in the development of living skills. My mentor counsels me in my project; providing me useful feedback on my drafts. Helping me to understand the nature of my project, she dispelled my initial fears that I had in selecting this CSR-related project. When I found that most of PLUS’s local competitors including LITRAK was not an ‘equal’ in scale in adopting CSR, my mentor suggested that I choose NEXCO of Japan instead as it was a more ‘proportionate’ company to compare with to do an evaluation. She also supported me on my intention to do a consumer satisfaction survey on PLUS’s services to obtain experience in obtaining primary data. My mentor explained to me that a CSR-type project was not merely a descriptive task. She impressed upon me on the need to identify both quantitative and qualitative aspects. She counseled me to analyse CSR activities from financial data to evaluate PLUS as a competitive business entity. Similarly, she requested that I look at the qualitative aspects such as branding, reputation and community affinity to determine the status of PLUS as a responsible corporate citizen. Through her guidance, I have managed to benchmark PLUS’s CSR activities with Bursa’s CSR framework and the Global Reporting Initiatives (GRI) to clearly evaluate the degree of conformance. Apart from that, I have applied Carroll’s CSR Pyramid to understand PLUS as a CSR corporation. Similarly, through application of Mendolow’s Matrix, I have identified PLUS’s stakeholders and the dynamics of the power-interest concept and its correlation and applicability in the real world. My mentor meetings served as a ‘sounding board’ for my ideas and opinions. It has added value and have helped me drive my project from one stage to the next. Based on my mentor’s advice, I had to realign my project many times as new perspectives are uncovered that will help answer my research questions more poignantly particularly that which relates to sustainability and on making recommendations to bolster PLUS to become an even better CSR corporate player, both locally and globally. My initial draft was voluminous. Based on suggestions from my mentor, I whittled down the word count to conform to OBU’s criterion.
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My mentor also provided me encouragement in the preparation for my presentation to her and to my peers. I read articles on public speaking to give me useful pointers. By practising in front of a mirror, I managed to develop self confidence and can eloquently present my project, without much trepidation. The RAP presentation has helped me to improve both my pronunciation and intonation. I am now able to use some computer software through doing my RAP. Currently, I show some dexterity in the use of Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Excel which are living skills that will stand me in good stead in my working life after my course. My well-prepared Powerpoint presentation has been commented upon by my mentor . It has also been instrumental in assisting me to put forward my points to my audience. I have also learned how to encourage participation amongst members of the audience using body language and making eye contact with them. The RAP has also made me an active listener. Through meeting with my mentor , I have honed my listening skills especially on the points she raised. I jotted down all these points in a journal and this has facilitated me in preparing this statement. My mentor also taught me how to do the Harvard Referencing System (HRS) for my project paper. After some false starts, I am now quite conversant with doing HRS. Clear communication is essential to avoid confusion and misunderstanding. As a mentee, I had to brush up on my oral communication skills when I speak to my mentor so as to ensure every mentor session is productive.

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Question 2: How well do you think that you have answered your research question(s)? I believe I have framed appropriate research questions on the outset of my RAP. Though the research phase has been tedious, I have managed to collect relevant data to help answer these research questions. I have looked at PLUS’s CSR projects and activities and benchmarked them against the guidelines of Bursa’s CSR framework and earmarked areas of the Global Reporting Initiatives (GRI). Through ‘gap’ analysis’, I could safely compare and evaluate the extent of PLUS’s involvement and commitment to CSR. Though PLUS seems to have conformed to Bursa’s CSR framework, there were some areas of the GRI that they have yet to do and report upon. As for the application of Carroll’s CSR Pyramid and Mendelow’s Matrix, I have found both of them useful in helping me to understand PLUS and its CSR initiatives. While Carroll’s CSR Pyramid helps me to understand PLUS better as a responsible CSR corporation, Mendelow’s matrix has enabled me to identify PLUS’s stakeholders. Identifying stakeholders through the matrix has allowed me to understand better the interplay between power and interests and how stakeholders can impact upon a corporation from issue to issue. In looking at both PLUS and NEXCO, I have used the comparison method to logically deduce their involvement and commitment to CSR and where their CSR activities are focused. This has helped me to provide rational answers to the research questions. I believe I have touched base with all pertinent issues. Though it may be difficult to directly link good business performance to CSR practices which are qualitative in nature, it would not be illogical to deduce that PLUS is a good company by looking at its key financial indicators. It’s increasing revenue and profits, year on year, dividend payout performance as well as its share price is testimony of the good standing of PLUS as an ‘on-going’ business entity. This has benefitted its more important stakeholders such as its majority shareholders, its employees, the government, consumer and the community. I have reviewed both PLUS and NEXCO’s CSR reports and observed that NEXCO’s CSR is more trained on environmental issues whereas PLUS’s focus is more diffused. I have categorised the CSR activities of both companies and compared them. After identifying key gaps, I had put forth some recommendations to PLUS to expand further on some CSR areas as well as to cover the key areas of GRI that they have not reported. To sum up, I would like to state here that I have satisfactorily answered my research questions.

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Question 3: How have you demonstrated communication skills during the project work?

your

interpersonal

and

Interpersonal and communication skills have been demonstrated throughout the course of this project. Oral skills were required when I met up with my mentor, when obtaining primary data via a survey and when making my presentation to my mentor and other mentees while writing my research report will reflect my written communication skills. Effective communication is vital to yield a productive interaction between me and my mentor. Every mentor meeting must be productive. As such, I will spend time to frame my questions on the issues that I wanted to raise as well as diligently jot down whatever key advice and suggestions that my mentor gave me during our meetings. As far as I can, I will play an active part in the oral discussion based on the issues that I prepared before a mentor-mentee session. Open ended questions will be asked when I need more elaboration on a particular issue. I will only ask close ended questions when I need confirmation from my mentor on specific issues. Apart from face-to-face meeting, I corresponded with my mentor through emails, text messages and Facebook between meetings. To avoid misinterpretation, I have ensured that every communication is well thought out before transmission. Conducting a customer satisfaction survey was new to me. However, I have learned to be polite when requesting respondents to fill up my questionnaires. I have also demonstrated my communication competency through good oral language skills both in English and Malay to explain to respondents on the objectives of my survey as well as to clarify certain questions. Most of my survey respondents comprised of my coursemates, parents of friends, lecturers, other students in my campus and university personnel as well as teachers in a neighbourhood school. On 28 January 2011, I personally conducted the survey on highway users at the Sungai Buloh RSA. Writing my research report requires me to have good written communication skills. This include proper grammar and good vocabulary. Apart from that, I have to be able to do good summaries. I have realised from my presentation to my mentor that conveying my message in a focused manner is imperative. I must not be too ‘wordy’ and should present my points in an organised manner from a macro perspective before progressing into details. As such, well-prepared Powerpoint slides will help my presentation immensely. Encouraging audience participation is also a key aspect in any presentation. I have employed body language and use my hands to gesticulate appropriately to drive home important points. I have also made regular eye contact to engage the audience

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so that they remain interested in my presentation. Apart from that, I made sure I am competent to take on questions during the Question and Answer session.

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Question 4: How has undertaking the RAP helped you in your accountancy studies and/or current employment role? I believe that undertaking the RAP has provided me with a unique experience that I will never get in just doing my ACCA. The ACCA course is more examination-based. An ACCA student would not be able to learn beyond concepts and if at all there is anything that comes close to the real world, it is in simulated form. Doing my RAP has exposed me to real case examples of CSR in its operative form. I know now from a close range how a corporation like PLUS craft its CSR statements. I can also reflect on Carroll’s CSR Pyramid and Mendelow’s Matrix to understand the conceptual pre-conditions of a corporation embarking on a CSR mission. Using Mendelow’s Matrix, I was able to identify key stakeholders based on the powerinterest analysis. I could also visually manipulate the concepts behind the matrix to demonstrate that in a dynamic situation, key stakeholders may actually lack influence and in other cases where low key stakeholders can exert influence by riding on the grievances of other stakeholders. Doing the consumer satisfaction survey has given me experience to draw up research questions and subsequently to draft out questionnaires to be used. Also, doing the analysis of the responses, tallying up scores, comparing outcomes and coming up with logical conclusions has been self-gratifying. I would not get this experience if I confine myself to just studying ACCA. Research skills which I developed through this RAP will be useful when I begin working life in the corporate world. I must confess that information overload was an issue in my project. Picking up relevant information was an issue which I managed to overcome. The other aspect was the continual editing of my draft. This has made me quite good at editing. The other area worthy of mention is my exposure to the use of computer software. I know more about Microsoft Office and have been able to use Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint with some degree of dexterity today. Knowing such computer skills will certainly bode well for my future as such skills are definitely an asset in the accounting profession. In conclusion, I must testify here that RAP has been beneficial as it has provided me with a set of living skills that will contribute to my ACCA studies and in my future employment.

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PRESENTATION SLIDES OVERVIEW OF PRESENTATION Slide 1: Objectives of the study Slide 2: CSR Frameworks used Slide 3: Carroll’s CSR Pyramid Slide 4: Mendelow’s Matrix Slide 5: What is Corporate Social Responsibility? Slide 6: A brief introduction of PLUS Slide 7: Key Areas of CSR Impact on Business Practices Slide 8: Environment Slide 9: Community Slide 10: Marketplace Slide 11: Workplace Slide 12: Key Stakeholders Identified Impact on Stakeholders Slide 13: Shareholders Slide 14: Financial Highlights Slide 15:  Employees  Customers Slide 16:  Suppliers  Government and Regulatory Authorities
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Slide 17: Community

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Competitor – NEXCO’s Good CSR Practices to be emulated Slide 18: Environment Slide 19: Workplace Slide 20: Criticisms Slide 21: Recommendations Slide 22: Conclusion

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TOPIC 20: PLUS Expressways Berhad’s Corporate Social Responsibility Policies, including Business Ethics, and their Impact on Business Practice and Key Stakeholders

OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY:
EXPECTED OUTCOMES:
To determine the extent of PLUS’s CSR policies in conformance to guidelines provided by Bursa KL, Carroll’s CSR pyramid and the Global Reporting Initiatives (GRI).
To understand the key stakeholders of PLUS and the effects of PLUS’s policies on them.

To appreciate the critical aspects surrounding PLUS’s CSR in its strategy to create sustainability.
To know how PLUS’s CSR policies and activities compare with those of its competitor, NEXCO. To seek ways to improve PLUS’s existing CSR practices so that PLUS can become a model CSR corporate citizen.

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CSR Frameworks used in this Research Project
1. 2. 3. 4. BURSA KL GRI Guidelines CARROLL’S CSR PYRAMID MENDELOW’S MATRIX

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MENDELOW’S MATRIX

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What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
 European Commission: ‘A concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis.’
 Bursa Malaysia: The ‘open and transparent business practices that are based on ethical values and respect for the community, employees, the environment, shareholders and other stakeholders. It is designed to deliver sustainable value to society at large’.  The Singapore Compact for CSR: ‘Business’s efforts to achieve sustainable outcomes by committing to good business practices and standards’.

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A Brief Introduction of PLUS

Government-linked Company. Privatised the construction and administration of the NorthSouth Expressway in 1988. Since 1994, PLUS has more highways under its wings through organic growth and takeovers. Mission Statement: To provide ‘efficient and safe expressways that enhances quality of life’.

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Key Areas of CSR

Environment

Community

Bursa Malaysia CSR Framework for Public Listed Companies

Marketplace

Workplace

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Impact on Business Practices Environment
• Toll Collection: To reduce greenhouse gas emissions at toll plazas. • Pilot project of alternative non-fossil materials to be used to replace bitumen.

• Processing food scraps at RSAs into organic fertilizers for use as plant nutrients. . • Reduce use of air-conditioning in operations
• Use of solar panels and energy-saving light bulbs.

• Advised drivers at RSAs to switch off the engines while they are resting in their cars.
•Transit tickets and disused road accessories are sent for proper recycling.

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Community
Road safety campaigns - Malaysians Unite for Road Safety (MUFORS) campaign, 2009. Employees: 2-days dedication to community work a year.

Providing business and employment opportunities. Making donations to worthy causes.
Promote environmental awareness. Sports for the youth – Go-kart.

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Marketplace
Road safety audit by independent certified auditors.

 User loyalty programme: PLUSMiles for customers, PLUSTrack for fleet operators.
Enhanced safety features on the highways.

Tenderers: Use e-bidding procedure to ensure anonymity and transparency. Clean RSAs, ATMs, suraus and even hotels available.

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Workplace
oA variety of training programmes (inhouse /outhouse).
oPersonnel Exchange Programme with NEXCO in Japan. oScheduled health check-ups for toll tellers. oChild Development Centres (CDC).

oPre-retirement training: Retirement Settlement Scheme. oSports and Leisure.
o Staff toll payment subsidy.

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Key Stakeholders Identified

Shareholders and Investors

Community

Employees

Key Stakeholders
Government and Regulatory Authorities

Customers

Suppliers

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IMPACT ON STAKEHOLDERS Shareholders
 Company’s most influential stakeholders.

 Has to engage majority shareholders – Obtain ‘blessings’ on any new corporate directions.
 Balancing majority interests – Short term gains (dividend payouts) versus long-term growth investors (retain profits for growth).  PLUS - Performed well payout is good. rising revenue and profits; dividend

 For 2010 – Net profit rose to RM1.301 billion. Dividend payout in 2009 was 16.5% while EPS was 23.73 sen.

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FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS
PLUS PROFIT PROFILE (2003-2010)
14 12 10 30

PLUS EARNINGS PER SHARE(20032010)
25 21.3 14.64 15.37 22.1 21.6 26.12 23.7

25
20

8

SEN

RM Bil

15

6 4 2 0

10 5 0

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

YEAR Year

PLUS Dividends Profile(20032009)
18% 16% 14% 12% 10% 8% 6% 4% 2% 0% 16.00% 16.50% 14.00% 12.00% 9.00% 6.00% 6.50%

Percentage

2003

2004

2005

2006 Year

2007

2008

2009

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Employees
Members of an in-house union. Consulted on areas affecting them. In-house union members have limited bargaining powers.

Customers
As PLUS manages some strategic highways, many customers have little choice but to use them. Customers are kept aware of PLUS operations through the media.
Grievances over high toll rates and impending toll rate increases have compelled the government, a powerful PLUS stakeholder, to order a freeze on toll rate increases for the next 5 years. Can decide to use alternative mode of transportation such as using a plane or a train if they are disillusioned with PLUS’s service.

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Suppliers
Minimal power over PLUS. Interests over what the procurement requirements of PLUS. A conduit of information to PLUS: New and better products that it can choose to use.

Government and Regulatory Authorities
Key stakeholder of PLUS. Always monitors the compliance of its rules and regulations.

Appears dormant: Can exert powers through licenses/permits when these come for renewal or when punitive actions need to be taken because of breaches of law and regulations.
PLUS must engage government and regulatory bodies actively and keep them constantly informed of the latest development in PLUS. Has to follow rules laid down by the Securities Commission of Malaysia and

Bursa KL.

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Community
Do not wield much power over PLUS.
Have a keen interest in the environment. PLUS has been engaging communities via: Community-based Programmes Philanthropic Pursuits Business Opportunities Work Opportunities

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Competitor: NEXCO’s Good CSR Practices to be emulated

Env iro nm ent
Using asphalt pavements besides installing sound insulation walls to mitigate sound pollution.
Installing new black light road signs to decrease light pollution and increase visibility. (Uses ultraviolet light to become luminescent, do not leak visible light into traffic lanes or into residential areas.)

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Workplace
Organising safety seminars to ensure an accident-free workplace.

Building safety corridors for toll collectors to safely cross ETC lanes. Limits the maximum hours that each employee can work and discourages overtime work.
Increase number of women workers with more emphasis on the female gender in new appointments. Increasing job opportunities for the disabled. NEXCO has its offices renovated for the convenience of the disabled and elderly staff.

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Recommendations
Encourage more migration of cash payment mode to ETCs. Use asphalt pavements to reduce noise pollution. Conduct a study on mitigation of light pollution.

Reduce bitumen usage in road works with new non-fossil based materials.
More creative community programmes - River rehabilitation, rural areas road upgrading. Be more responsive to public request for information. Consider giving special rebates to disabled drivers and senior citizens. Hire more of the disabled and women.

Expand participation at conferences, seminars and visits and international fairs.

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Conclusion
CSR is a dynamic process and a moving target. Analysis - PLUS has adhered to most of the disclosure guidelines in CSR frameworks in spirit and substance. PLUS needs to enhance further its CSR programmes and activities in the current areas of commitment by having more appropriate follow-up action plans.
Attention should not only be limited to majority shareholders, the government and regulatory authorities or its employees.

PLUS - be proactive and do its obligations as befit its image as the premier toll highway operator in the country and the world.

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Thank you very much & The End

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