Sands Cares, the corporate giving program of Las Vegas Sands, is the company’s manifested commitment to being a good corporate citizen, committed to its people, communities in which it operates and the planet. In each region, Sands Cares has Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) leads that manage the program and execute initiatives unique to each region.
Annie Lam has been with Sands China Ltd (SCL) for almost 13 years, joining the company in 2005. Lam started with the company as a Guest Service Supervisor at Sands Macao, managing hotel operations and then two years later, transferred to the Community Affairs department, implementing the company’s CSR program in Macao.
“I was born and raised in Macao and went to Australia to complete my Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Sydney,” she said. “Before joining Sands China, I had the opportunity to work in Sydney and Hong Kong before moving back to Macao. In 2007, the concept of CSR was still a very new topic, especially in Macao. Our Department was at that time the bridge and connector to the local community. I remember there was not a lot of community involvement from big organizations like us.”
Lam said local non-profit organizations were also skeptical about asking for help from international organizations. With the launch of the first Responsible Gaming Program in Macao in 2007, SCL also set up the company’s charitable contribution committee, developed the company’s CSR goals and direction, aligning to the main pillars of Sands Cares and also discovering the needs in Macao.
“From there I started taking part in planning our CSR strategy, including the establishment of our first volunteer team, Sands China Care Ambassadors (SCCA) in 2009,” Lam said. “All of the CSR initiatives were new ideas in Macao and it took a long time and a lot of communication to put all of the charitable giving and sponsorships in place.”
With the most properties in Macao, and in Las Vegas Sands’ property portfolio, the goal was to organize meaningful community activities for people in need and at the same time give SCCA volunteers more opportunities to serve their community. With each effort, meaningful research took place to understand who they are serving, and the specific needs and the challenges the community is facing. From there, Lam and the rest of the Community Affairs team plan activities, delivering the best resources for the targeted service users, ensuring they have the best experience along with personal growth.
“We can’t possibly send hundreds of our volunteers to manage one activity because there are limitations. As a result we need to plan more diverse activities so that more of our volunteers have a chance to take part,” Lam said. “Currently we have an updated data base with contact information and we send mass emails to them, informing them about the volunteer opportunity with a link to register, on a first come first serve basis. We also post our activity preview in our SCCA Facebook page for those that don’t have company email.”
Lam says she is one of the lucky ones to work at an organization that values community involvement and that she is able to contribute to the development, management and implementation of CSR strategies and programs, enhancing communications with all of the properties’ business units in order to raise awareness and engage Team Members.
“By engaging key stakeholders in government, local industries, and major charitable organizations, we are able to capture insights about emerging social and environmental issues,” she said. “I am so glad that I can be one of the tools of the company, a ‘social radar,’ while also running one of the largest volunteer teams. Next year, we will be celebrating our 10th anniversary, launching a series of meaningful activities to celebrate this spectacular accomplishment. Our volunteers are superb and our 1,600 Sands China Cares Ambassadors consist of people with different nationalities, backgrounds and various talents but they all have the same good heart in serving the less fortunate. For true engagement to happen, we need to find a way to help volunteers achieve their personal goals. Some jumped in because they saw the opportunity to express their feelings and emotions through charity work, others jumped in because they saw this as a new way to learn new skills, express their strengths and to get exposure to make new friends and connections.”