Fairness and sustainability: New priorities for business?

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Even as the pandemic continues to send shockwaves through the economy, Canadians are looking for businesses to enhance their focus on inequality, inequity, and environmental sustainability.

That’s the finding of a new study by the Canadian Centre for the Purpose of the Corporation, an initiative created to help arm Canadian businesses and organizations with the insights, tools, and support to redefine and strengthen their purpose, and the contributions they make to society.

“The traditional focus on health care and the economy that has dominated the Canadian psyche for generations is changing,” says Dr. Sara Diamond, President Emerita, OCAD University, an expert supporting the corporation. “Employees, customers, investors, governments, and communities are now asking businesses to do something different. To do something more.”

When the pandemic lockdowns hit the global markets last spring, many believed companies’ growing sustainability projects and programs would be paused or even scrapped entirely. Leaders such as Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary talked of putting sustainability on the backburner.

With social movements gaining influence and Millenials laser-focused on finding a job “with a purpose” in a company that is advancing the wellbeing of society in new and innovative ways, the business landscape is being upended. Companies interested in recruiting future talent are taking a long, hard look in the mirror.

“We are seeing a fascinating evolution in attitudes that business leaders need to understand if they are going thrive in the long run,” said ITWC President and CEO Fawn Annan, who will moderate a special briefing on the survey results on Jan. 19.

Evidence signaling the changing perspective has been growing. In a 2019 Gallup poll, people (including individuals of all ages) indicated there have never been greater concerns about issues and challenges around sustainability. In the poll, two-thirds of people aged 18 to 29 said they consider global warming an absolute and immediate threat.

And the message is getting through to business. Apple, for instance, has a goal of becoming “net-zero” by 2030 across its entire operations. A “Transform to Net Zero” alliance, founded by Danone, Maersk, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, Natura & Co, Starbucks, Nike, Wipro, and Unilever, is helping businesses around the world transition to net zero emissions.

Do you want to get a solid understanding of what Canadians really think business leaders should be focusing on right now and in the future? Do you need to be presented with compelling reasons why now is the right time for social impact initiatives, and why businesses should be proactive when it comes to fairness and sustainability?

At 1 pm EST on January 19th, Dr. Sara Diamond, President, OCAD University & Expert Panelist, CCPC, and former New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant, CEO, CCPC, will be getting together for Fairness and Sustainability: New Priorities for Business? In this one-hour briefing, followed by a question-and-answer session, Diamond and Gallant will break down the findings of the report.

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