Commerce with a conscience. Ethically-engaged executives. Principals with principles. However you define it, corporate social responsibility is about businesses that are determined to have a positive impact on the world in which they operate – particularly with regards to their employees, their community and their physical environment.
The Atlantic Canada CSR awards, now in their second year, were created to recognize and celebrate regional companies and organizations making exceptional efforts to improve their CSR outcomes.
Entries for the 2012 awards were submitted electronically following a public call for nominations. Print, online and social media were utilized to boost nominations. Nominees were invited to complete a brief questionnaire and provide supporting documentation where applicable. These questionnaires were then reviewed by a three-person judging panel, and winners announced for three categories: human resources; sustainability; and, philanthropy/community outreach.
Category: Human Resources
Recognizing significant initiatives to improve the working lives, safety, diversity and/or general well-being of employees.
Who are they: A privately-held corporation in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland that makes garments styled after clothing worn in movies, anime series, TV shows and computer games. With only six employees, AbbyShot exports to over 45 countries.
What’s their story: We have somewhat flexible hours which will accommodate problems with sitters, kids being ill, family visiting, personal meetings, etc… If we need to miss work for something out of the ordinary, we simply work outside of the regular hours, paying back time we missed. …It has been recognized that we do our best work when we can focus on what is in front of us with a clear head and conscience.
AbbyShot has an open-door policy. Our culture is such that we all realize that we need to work as a team. We are all responsible for bringing to work with us a high energy and problem-solving skills. We work well together within a company which has no secrets. We are all aware of where the company stands financially, in terms of HR, and ethics.
Bonnie Cook, the owner of AbbyShot, guides us all by setting the tone and standards of our working environment. She is a strong proponent of equality within the workplace. There is virtually no hierarchy at AbbyShot. We work in a no-blame environment in which we seek to solve any problem which might come up, and we put into practice the writing of the process which will stop the error from being duplicated.
Besides formal skills training which we take advantage of whenever possible, we have also received training in updating our Strategic Objectives for the company. We have attended various seminars, such as Lean Training, which has cut down on a lot of potential for accidents.
The culture of our company is such that our employer looks at the development of each of her staff as a whole individual. We have had various Lunch and Learn sessions which have taught us about the energy we not only bring into the building, but also the energy we can generate as a group. We have learned about ergonomics within the workplace and healthy eating and living practices. We no longer have coffee breaks, but instead have smoothie breaks, with a different staff member being responsible for the smoothies a particular day. In our new kitchen plan we created a smoothie station. At lunch and breaks we watch videos on our large screen tv which make us laugh and/or teach us something about nature or food, for example. We also have an x-box game, should we decide we want to just kick back and play. Every now and again we will go on a field trip. We have learned to become less egocentric through programs such as transformational training. Every afternoon we have a 10-minute water break in which each person must come to the table with water and drink it in order to rejuvenate.
While we don’t have the formal structure of some larger companies, we do indeed live and breathe the goal of improving the working lives, safety, diversity and general well-being of all our employees.
The AbbyShot team, including Eon (centre, back). This mysterious individual reportedly lurks about the shop at opportune (for him) times and reports to customers via various social media platforms about what’s happening with new or potential products.
Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union
Who are they: Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union (NLCU) is a full-service financial institution with 142 employees, over 21,700 owners and over $488 million in assets. As the largest credit union in Atlantic Canada, NLCU has 13 locations province-wide.
What’s their story: Our Human Resource’s Pillar of Wellness states “We recognize that people deserve a safe and healthy workplace that includes a harassment-free atmosphere and a strong work-life balance. This is accomplished by policy development as well as education, awareness and practical health programs. These include: Employee assistance program (NLCU pays for up to six counseling sessions per employee); on-site company-sponsored flu immunization; fitness incentive of up to $100 for eligible programs; a scent and smoke-free environment; active occupational health and safety committee and return to work policy; functional assessment tool to help employees return to work sooner; NLCU-sponsored group insurance plan for all full and part-time employees (minimum 10 hours per week) that covers health, dental, life and accidental death and dismemberment.
NLCU offers f lex time for employees as well as a compressed work week program where employees can work an extra one-half hour each day for a three-week period with a full day off in the third week. NLCU also offers Family Responsibility Leave that provides employees with three days each calendar year, which can accumulate for 10 years to a maximum of 30 days to attend to family matters such as illness, medical and school appointments, and other household emergencies.
A diversity in the workplace philosophy is inherently ingrained in the organization’s culture. This is ref lected in our workforce, which employs over 90 per cent women. In addition, two of three executive management employees are women, including the chief executive officer. In terms of supporting individuals who have disabilities, all of our locations are wheelchair accessible and all branch counter lines offer sit-down service for both employee and customer comfort.
We have an Incentive Pay Program where profits may be shared annually with employees based on overall NLCU performance, team performance and individual performance. Included in the criteria are financial and internal/external service benchmarks that must be achieved for profits to be shared with employees.
Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union has been recognized as a “best company” or an “employer of distinction” many times over the last number of years by local organizations like the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council. It has also received national recognition in MediaCorp’s Top 25 Employers in Atlantic Canada.
Who are they: A diversified financial services companies providing banking, wealth management, insurance and capital markets services. In Atlantic Canada, RBC has more than 2,500 employees throughout 114 branches and commercial banking centres. Their total annual payout for salaries in the region is almost $107.5 million.
What’s their story: RBC in Atlantic Canada has developed a brand in the marketplace for our deep commitment to diversity and creating an inclusive environment for all employees to grow and develop.
One of the ways in which RBC encourages diversity is through Employee Resource Groups. These are self-coordinating employee groups formally recognized by RBC and formed for the express purpose of supporting an inclusive environment for their particular group. Employee Resources Groups active in Atlantic Canada include: Royal Eagles (aboriginal employees); PRIDE (Proud RBC Individuals for Diversity and Equality); REACH (employees with disabilities); and MOSAIC (visible minorities and newcomers to Canada).
Advancement of women as leaders and clients is one area we are extremely proud of:
- In November 2010, Kim Mason was appointed regional president of RBC in Atlantic Canada making her Atlantic’s first female head.
- We have increased the representation of women in our senior management roles. For example, 29 per cent of our VPs were women in 2010; now 40 per cent of them are women.
- Kim has received positive and unsolicited feedback from female RBC employees across Atlantic Canada who tell her that having a woman in this role has motivated them to take steps to qualify for leadership positions themselves.
- Kim also acts as an advocate for women externally. She is regularly approached to represent “women executives/leaders” at events hosted by other organizations.
- RBC supports and sponsors events aimed at women entrepreneurs. This has included local leveraging of the national RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards, and local sponsorship of events like Mom café.
- RBC has appointed a “Women’s Market Champion” for Atlantic. This person actively works to enhance dialogue amongst female leaders in Atlantic. RBC Atlantic also places tremendous focus on International Women’s Day. In addition to featuring a message from our (female) regional president, we highlight female employees from across the district on our Atlantic website.
Results from RBC’s 2012 Employee Opinion Survey indicate that its HR approaches are having a positive impact across the region: 86 per cent of employees feel management is interested in the well-being of its employees and 91 per cent of employees feel managers allow them sufficient flexibility to meet their personal/family needs.
Who are they: One of North America’s largest regional communications providers and the first company in Canada to cover an entire city with fibre-to-the-home technology. Bell Aliant has 7,000 employees in Atlantic Canada.
What’s their story: Faced with the possibility of losing one third of their Atlantic union workforce to retirement in a five-year period, Bell Aliant initiated a three-year plan to rejuvenate its frontline staff. This plan, which was based on creating job opportunities for youth, new graduates and new Canadians, included a phased/controlled retirement process to ensure effective skills transfer. A second element of the plan was the creation of a consumer service technician resource pool to manage increased demand due to the company’s aggressive FibreOP (fibre-to-the-home) expansion. This resource pool was supplemented by a robust recruitment drive targeting new graduates, young workers and new Canadians. The company also expanded its co-op and internship programs with aboriginal groups.
Who are they: A family-owned independent company based in Corner Brook, N.L. The company has 756 employees working in four divisions: Focenco (food division); Colemans BrandSource (furniture division); Arthur James (clothing division); and Coleman Management Services (providing support services to the other companies).
What’s their story: Newfoundland, historically, has been a province defined by high unemployment. This changed in 2006 with the boom in Alberta and the unprecedented number of Newfoundlanders who moved west for work—creating a labour shortage at home. Colemans responded by aggressively marketing its flexible work schedules, thus becoming an employer of choice for students, part-time workers and parents who can only work while their children are in school.
Recognizing significant improvements in operations, production processes, resource requirements, recycling, product design, buildings and other infrastructure that demonstrably improve sustainability. Examples include but are not limited to: less impact on threatened species, lower carbon footprint and increased use of renewable materials.
City of Summerside
Who are they: the second largest city in Prince Edward Island and the principal municipality in the western part of the province. Approximate population: 14,000.
What’s their story: What sets Summerside apart is the fact that half our power comes from wind. Rather than looking at things on a small scale, such as increasing the use of renewables in any given building by a small percentage, Summerside has tackled the bigger picture with the result that all of its customers, both residential and commercial, are consuming electricity supplied by Summerside Electric, approximately half of which comes from local wind.
We also operate the only BNR (Biological Nutrient Removal) Tertiary Water Treatment facility in Atlantic Canada. The plant is able to remove 95 per cent of the solids that are coming into the wastewater system, along with other products such as phosphorus, nitrogen and ammonia. Summerside built a system that recovers the liquid stream and takes the solids out of it. Those solids are put through a process of alkaline stabilization and pasteurization, so we end up with a product that is available to be land-applied as a good additive to soil.
The treated water that leaves the plant (effluent) is of exceptional quality, with levels of suspended solids, nitrates, ammonia and phosphorus well below the levels allowed by the government. Our effluent numbers are second to none to protect the harbour and shell fishery of Summerside – in fact, we have a fish tank in our facility where our fish live in the same effluent we release.
In 2011, the biosolids processing/handling facility produced 4,257 tonnes of class A fertilizer which was sold to Agromart. The Summerside facility continues to handle all of the hauled septage from the western half of Prince Edward Island and has received in 2011 a total of 930,925 gallons. The Treatment Plant operations were modified slightly to practically eliminate landfill tonnage of sludge products from the plant.
We are also undertaking one of the most innovative energy efficiency initiatives to date in Canada. Summerside is working with Tantalus on Smart Grid technology that ties together the municipality’s fibre-to-the-meter network, wind generated power, and in-home energy storage devices. Together, these enable the city to optimize the performance of its distribution network and significantly reduce its carbon footprint by providing consumers with a reliable, low cost source of renewable energy.
This system allows Summerside to precisely measure, monitor and control devices connected to its distribution network including special furnaces that can be charged with power generated by our wind turbines. The ability to automatically turn energy storage devices on and off when wind is on the grid using two-way technology will enable Summerside to quickly shift to stored power whenever peak load conditions arise, while using the less expensive energy to heat homes at night. Command and control functionality can also be used to regulate consumption on direct load appliances such as hot water heaters and air conditioners that are enrolled in load control programs. Time-stamped records verify that the action has taken place and indicate whether a customer opted out of an event – important for accurate billing and determining how much power was actually saved.
We realize that building a Smart Grid is not a single step or a single technology, but a series of projects that must operate as a unified system. We’re very excited about this groundbreaking project, bent on creating a clean, green and economically robust community.
We are extremely proud of our commitment to being sustainable; in the services we provide and develop, but above all we are proud of our people who are committed to living and working the principles we believe are right for our city and Prince Edward Island. Our staff brings ideas, suggestions, strong work ethics and pride to our organization and community each day. We are proud of our “Small City with Big Ambition” and our dedication to grow responsibly with care for the environment and the preservation of our island and the ocean that sustains us.
Since December 2009, the City of Summerside has operated a 12MW generation facility. The scope of the project is to displace fossil fuel generated energy with renewable resource energy; it is expected to displace, annually, 30 GWHs of electricity.
Clearwater Seafoods Limited Partnership
Who are they: Clearwater is a vertically integrated seafood company with fishing operations, land-based process and retail and sales operations. Approximately 1,400 people work for Clearwater worldwide.
What’s their story: We have been committed to sustainable use of our ocean resources since the company’s inception in 1976. This commitment otivates our involvement in many Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) science and management initiatives. We contribute financially and in-kind with research vessels for DFO scientists to carry out important fisheries research. The international third-party certification body, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has recognized our commitment to sustainable fisheries. The MSC evaluates fisheries against three principles of sustainability—the sustainability of the target fish species, the maintenance of the ecosystem and the efficacy of the management system. With the recent certification of Clearwater’s Arctic surf clam and Nova Scotia snow crab products the company has the widest selection of MSC-certified species of any seafood harvester worldwide.
We have done packaging reviews that have resulted in redesigns that use fewer resources. We are currently involved in a partnership to commercialize new technology that will recover waste heat energy from fishing vessels’ engines to use for on-board freezing. We are constantly re-assessing our land-based processes to make efficiency improvements. Ocean–bottom mapping and satellite technologies to direct our vessels have allowed us to harvest our resource when it is mature and preserve the juvenile resource for future years. This also allows us to realize fuel efficiency when operating our vessels.
The following is a direct quote from our chairman, Colin MacDonald: “We believe that sustainability is not just good business, it is our corporate and personal responsibility. Healthy oceans are fundamental to the success of our business. We know that understanding, protecting, and promoting the long-term productivity of our fisheries resources translates into sustainable economic performance of our company, benefits the environment, provides social benefits for our employees and communities and ensures our children have the ocean’s bounty to pass to their children.
“The assurance of stable access to resources through our rights-based fisheries management system rewards responsibility and promotes reinvestment of economic returns back into the science and management systems that foster sustainability. Clearwater believes that as a user of a natural renewable resource we have a responsibility to be stewards of that resource and make decisions based on the best available science and long term sustainability rather than short term market convenience. We are mindful of the potential impact of our operations and we make significant investments in science and technology to ensure we understand and manage those impacts appropriately. We work both through our corporate initiatives and through collaborative projects with government agencies to advance solutions to challenges we face in the fishery.
“We face many more environmental challenges in today’s world. These are far broader than fisheries sustainability and reach far beyond our small place on the planet. We must all do our part at both home and at work to be mindful of our impact on the environment. At Clearwater, we are working hard to constantly review our supply chain and put in place initiatives to address our impacts on our environment. We have always strived to be a leader in the fishing industry and continuously improve our operations. In today’s world of environmental uncertainty, we have redoubled our efforts to be leaders in sustainable and responsible fishing practices as well as in all our interactions with our environment. We are dedicated to providing our customers with safe, healthy, sustainable seafood products that we are proud to serve to our own families and you can be proud to serve yours.”
Clearwater employees taking part in the 2012 Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. Initiated in 1994, it is today one of the largest direct action conservation programs in the country, with more than 56,000 volunteers nationwide.
Who are they: A leading diversified financial services company that published its first corporate policy on the environment in 1991. Their priority environmental issues are climate change, biodiversity (forests, indigenous peoples) and water.
What’s their story: Since launching the RBC Blue Water Project in 2007, RBC has committed over $1.8 million in funding to 25 different environmental organizations and initiatives in Atlantic Canada. In June 2012, a $90,000 grant was awarded to the Clean Annapolis River Project and a $60,000 grant was awarded to the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation. In addition, Atlantic Canada, and in particular the Saint John River, will be the direct beneficiary of a $500,000 grant to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Rivers Initiative. New Brunswick’s Saint John River was selected as one of the first rivers in the country to benefit from the Living Rivers initiative. As well, RBC sponsors and participates in water-related events throughout the region.
Who are they: A diverse energy company dedicated to maintaining a high standard of environmental responsibility and performance through the implementation of a comprehensive environmental management system. Its guiding principles are pollution prevention, improve continually, and relentless compliance of legislation/regulations.
What’s their story: Nalcor Energy built one of the world’s first Wind-Hydrogen-Diesel- Energy Projects. It incorporates renewable wind and hydrogen energy sources to supplement the diesel generation requirements in an isolated electrical system. This innovative project has attracted attention world-wide due to its one-of-a-kind Energy Management System (EMS), developed in-house. This software will automatically control the integration of diesel generation, wind generation, and hydrogen production, storage and generation. Upon commercialization it can help isolated communities world-wide to reduce, and potentially replace their reliance on diesel fuel.
Category: Philanthropy & Community Outreach
Recognizing corporate support of social initiatives within the local community, and/or on a national or international basis.
Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union
Who are they: a full-service financial institution and the largest credit union in Atlantic Canada. In 2002, they established the NLCU Charitable Foundation Corporation (NLCU CFC) as a registered charity. To date, the Foundation has fundraised over $638,000.
What’s their story: The Foundation’s vision is to be a visible leader in support of registered charities primarily in Newfoundland and Labrador that work to improve social programs and services in the areas of youth, education, health, arts, culture, and the environment. The NLCU CFC is 100 per cent volunteer led and run, and NLCU employees are its driving force, raising funds on behalf of the Foundation for distribution to other charities.
Apart from the tremendous community contributions made annually by the Foundation, NLCU also supports a range of charitable and non-profit organizations, from music festivals and food banks to healthcare and education. In fact, NLCU participates in over 100 community sponsorship programs annually through sponsorships and in-kind donations.
The donations distributed by the Foundation and the sponsorships provided by NLCU together equal approximately $250,000 a year. Giving back to the communities in which we live and work is one of the core values of NLCU. In fact, every employee’s job description includes a commitment to volunteerism. NLCU’s commitment to the community and to charitable organizations that form the fabric of many of the province’s social programs is a powerful means for our owners, Board of Directors, employees and the general public to give back to those individuals in need.
CEO Allison Chaytor-Loveys, who was inducted into Atlantic Business Magazine’s Top 50 CEO Hall of Fame, says, “We believe that engaging employees in volunteer efforts and initiatives that positively influence where we live and work helps them in turn, to build solid relationships with our owners and within our communities.”
Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union supports numerous charities and community causes, such as Dr. T.A. Loeffler’s quest to climb the highest peaks on each of the seven continents.
Community Education Network
Who are they: a not-for-profit community-based organization located in southwestern Newfoundland which seeks to foster a community-wide interest in learning.
What’s their story: According to the Community Education Network handbook, it operates as an umbrella organization bringing together a wide range of community and government agencies representing education, health promotion, social services, human resource and economic development to initiate partnerships and collaborative projects in order to address community needs in an integrated, holistic manner. As a staff person stated, “CEN gets people working together who would not otherwise do so. Everyone is brought to the table to solve problems and to take action.”
Medavie Blue Cross
Who are they: a regional provider of health, dental, travel, life and disability insurance products, based in Moncton, New Brunswick with locations throughout Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario. In 2011, the company established the Medavie Health Foundation, a not-for-profit registered charity
What’s their story: Medavie Blue Cross has committed to support the Medavie Health Foundation through an annual social dividend of 10 per cent of net income.
In addition, Medavie Blue Cross contributes an additional three per cent of annual net income to the Building Healthy Communities™ program. Through this community involvement program, Medavie Blue Cross and its employees donate time and money to support healthy outcomes in communities across the six provinces where we operate.
To date, the Medavie Health Foundation has committed more than $1.2 million to single-and multi-year grant and partnership programs. In 2011, the Building Healthy Communities program, together with employees, gave more than $882,000 to charitable and non-profit organizations in the community. Since 2005, the Building Healthy Communities program, including employee fundraising, has contributed almost $5 million to community initiatives in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario.
We contribute to a variety of health and wellness-related causes each year. Through our community involvement program, we support positive outcomes in the health and social welfare of people in the regions where our employees and clients live and work. The program supports events and initiatives that fall under the categories of health support, social welfare, medical care and employee causes. This program is an outstanding example of one of our core values: “We engage in the well-being of our communities.”
We support a number of Canadian registered charities with a primary focus on health, including significant contributions and sponsorships towards: Alzheimer’s Society, The Arthritis Society, Canadian Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation and MS Society.
We are a strong United Way supporter across our locations. Employees participate in annual workplace fundraising campaigns and payroll deduction, and we make contributions as an organization based on the success of employee campaigns. We also participate in the Loaned Representative program and provide paid time-off for employees who wish to participate in the annual United Way Day of Caring. In 2011, employee and corporate donations to United Way totaled more than $181,000.
Our Time Equals Money program supports employees who give back to their communities through volunteer time commitments. Qualified non-profit organizations receive a $500 donation from Medavie Blue Cross when an employee volunteers at least 50 hours in one calendar year. In 2011, employees recorded more than 6,300 volunteer hours for organizations in six provinces through Time Equals Money. With our Team Matching program, we match team fundraising efforts up to $3,000 when two or more employees participate in charitable health-related team events. Employees participate in various events throughout the year, including the Relay for Life, MS Walk and Bike Tour, Big Bike for Heart and Stroke, Movember and many others.
Many of our employee groups leverage opportunities to support local charitable causes as a team-building activity, further reinforcing community engagement as one of our core values and recognizing the camaraderie that comes from giving back together. Many employees specify community involvement activity as a performance objective, which reflects on their annual review.
We know we are in a position to make a positive difference in the health and social welfare of people across our regions. In fact, we feel so strongly about engaging in the well-being of our communities that it is one of our core values, and a cornerstone of our organization.
Medavie employees create fundraising teams, volunteer in the local community and support each other in their community efforts. The company credits these efforts with helping to create a caring corporate culture.
Who are they: a leading diversified financial services company which has been recognized as an Outstanding Corporate Philanthropist in Atlantic Canada.
What’s their story: RBC feels a responsibility to do its part to ensure the communities in which we operate are as successful as they can be. One of the ways we contribute to this success is to ensure that every one of the 114 communities in which we operate across Atlantic benefits from our donations program.
With one of our main pillars of support being education, RBC in Atlantic Canada has developed a unique program to reward and recognize students who are preparing for post-secondary education. The RBC Award Program provides a $1,000 scholarship to at least one high school student in each of the 114 communities in which we operate across Atlantic. Given the bilingual nature of N.B., we give both a French and English award to communities in that province.
RBC is also a significant sponsor of numerous community events and causes including The East Coast Music Awards, Festival of Trees, Hockey N.S., N.S. Conference for Persons with Disabilities, Rennie’s River Duck Race, and Entrepreneur’s Forum.
Who are they: an Atlantic Canadian law firm with a formal CSR program. It has two goals: to undertake projects that make a deep and lasting difference in society; and to build a sense of community and engagement within the firm.
What’s their story: For us, it’s not enough to provide financial assistance. Rather, we are committed to making a meaningful difference by offering support in various capacities.
We sponsored the Early Education Centre at Hazen-White/St. Francis School in Saint John after the school identified challenges faced by students who were entering the school system without the basic skills needed to learn and thrive.
St. George’s YouthNet is an organization that provides educational and experiential programming for underprivileged youth in north end Halifax. In addition to monetary donations, we offer ongoing volunteer assistance and fundraising support.
We’re not simply providing support. Rather, our members are genuinely invested in empowering the lives of children in their communities.