The opening of Sands Macao on May 18, 2004, marked the beginning of an era of transformation for Macau’s tourism industry – a period that has witnessed enormous growth in the SAR and for Sands China Ltd.
Fifteen years later, the company’s first property continues to welcome millions of guests through its doors each year, and has since been joined by four integrated resorts on the Cotai Strip. Together, they have recorded 700 million visits to date, while setting ever-higher standards of service excellence in a city that is establishing itself as a world centre of tourism and leisure – a city primed to be a key player in the development of the Greater Bay Area.
To mark this decade-and-a-half milestone, this is the final instalment of our five-part look at Sands Macao and Sands China Ltd. We close out the series with a focus on Sands China’s community work and environmental sustainability efforts in Macao.
Missed Parts 1-4? Read them online at macaudailytimes.com.mo/tag/sandsmacao15
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a practise which most large companies engage in, and Sands China Ltd. undertakes it with a genuine desire to better the community. Dr Wilfred Wong, president of Sands China Ltd., stated that one of the company’s core values is giving back to the community.
Sands China’s desire to give back to the community has largely been carried out through contributing a significant amount of time, money and resources in a variety of charitable organizations within the MSAR across the 15 years it has been in Macau. This primarily takes the form of its long-term relationships with several non-governmental charities. As a result, Sands China has been a stalwart provider of aid and support to the Macau community in times of crisis.
Two years ago, the severely destructive typhoon, Hato, struck Macau, devastating the city. In the aftermath of the storm, people who needed to be transported to the hospital were facing the prospect of being stranded, as the “Rehabus” shuttle buses of Caritas Macau, the charity outreach of the Diocese of Macau, were damaged. Secretary General of Caritas Macau, Paul Pun, vividly remembered the immediate actions of Sands China as they “proactively got in touch with us to see what we needed. They decided to give us new Rehabuses.” Moreover, while the new buses were being refitted by the manufacturer for their specialized purpose, “Sands China offered vans and drivers free of charge to meet our urgent needs.”
While Sands China gives generous financial donations to charitable organizations in Macau, the reason the company makes a significant difference in the community is the generosity of spirit and expertise they offer to the organisations with which they partner.
Fifteen years ago, the Fuhong Society of Macau was struggling to set up a centre in Fai Chi Kei. Sands China partnered with them, and through their advocacy, made the centre a reality. The Fuhong Society is known for a laundry service it runs which is staffed by people with mental disabilities.
The organization’s secretary general, Jennifer Chau, noted that Sands China has helped them overcome a significant number of difficulties to ensure the service operates smoothly through its provision of on-site advice as well as financial support. “Sands China’s engineering staff came to help us communicate with our contractor,” Ms. Chau noted. The team was in fact vital to helping the setup, as “we didn’t know we needed a special electric cable for the machines, not to mention how to connect it.”
Indeed, the outstanding work that Sands China does to offer space and opportunities for disabled people, in an environment which often marginalizes them, is emphasized by Mr. Siu Yu Hong, national director of the Macau Special Olympics (MSO), which does work to provide a better livelihood for the mentally challenged through sports. Mr. Siu noted that “many of our members are formally employed by Sands China. They work in departments such as laundry, cleaning, and floristry.” There is a particular capacity of organizations such as Sands China for employing mentally handicapped people as “mega enterprises have a lot of repetitive work that suits our members well, which smaller companies just don’t have.” Mr. Siu said many of MSO’s members are performing well at Sands China properties, and have been constantly provided job opportunities, as well as offered substantial support.
Sands China has placed a great deal of resources into advocating for mental health. They have invested a significant amount of money to prevent gambling disorders, and began working with Sheng Kung Hui in 2008. Mr. Lee Kwok Hoo, the service director of Sheng Kung Hui Macau Social Services Coordination Office, said that Sands China’s donations to groups working in this space has helped support social workers and consultants in promoting responsible gaming, attending professional training, and improving service standards. Mr. Lee added that “Sands China has been supporting research into responsible gambling, and integrating experiences from Las Vegas into the Macau context. Our role is to localize these experiences to make it viable in Macau.”
Marrying their push to raise awareness about the importance of responsible gaming in the broader community with their core focus on employee wellbeing, Sands China started collaborating with the Macao Gaming Industry Employees Home in 2013. Supervisor Mr. Pak Kin Pong spoke about the work his organization does with Sands China: “We started our collaboration in 2013 promoting responsible gambling and psychological health. Sands China sponsored more than 100 training sessions on responsible gambling led by us, involving more than 3,000 Sands China employees. Sands China is a really responsible enterprise: they display many promotional materials about responsible gambling in their casinos and back of houses. They also proactively post materials on their shuttle buses.”
As Sands China works to make a positive contribution to the Macao community through its volunteer work and other community-building efforts, the company is at the same time keenly aware of the importance of operating in an environmentally sustainable manner – especially considering the massive scale of Sands China’s integrated resorts.
Sands China recently banned plastic straws from its internal operations and from its restaurants, and switched over to providing paper straws upon request. It has also put into effect a complete ban on shark fin, which covers the entirety of Sands China’s internal food and beverage operations, as well as all restaurants owned by the company.