4. Large Business: Retail
Staff: Michel Lemay, Vice President, Communications and Corporate Affairs and Chief Brand Officer, Transat A.T. Inc.
The company: Transat is one of the largest tour operators in the world, each year bringing 3 million travelers to more than 60 destination countries. It has 18 divisions in 8 countries.
The achievement: Until 2006, Transat had a donations program but not corporate social responsibility vision, strategy or policy. Michel Lemay, Vice-President of Communications and Corporate Affairs and Chief Brand Officer, then proposed an ambitious CSR vision and program aimed at making Transat one of the most responsible mass tourism companies in the world. Five years later, the company has implemented a comprehensive CSR program. It has introduced an environmental management system internally and successfully reduced its footprint, launched a funding program for job-creating sustainable tourism projects abroad, expanded its donation program and created innovative partnerships to benefit communities in poorer countries, developed a hotel program to encourage its suppliers to adopt the best environmental and social practices, put together a program to facilitate international volunteer work by its employees and published two CSR reports. The company has also partnered with an NGO called Beyond Borders to help fight against child sex tourism.
Senior: Tyler Elm, Vice President, Business Sustainability, Corporate Strategy and Business Development, Canadian Tire Corporation
The company: Since 1922, Canadian Tire has been one of Canada’s most recognized and trusted brands. The company is one of Canada’s most-shopped general retailers with 1,700 retail and gasoline outlets across the country.
The achievement: In 2008, CSR at Canadian Tire was housed under Corporate Affairs and environmental initiatives were perceived as a cost. Under the leadership of Tyler Elm, Vice President, Business Sustainability, Corporate Strategy and Business Development, Canadian Tire Corporation transformed its approach to environmental issues. Tyler focuses on sustainability and currently leads Canadian Tire's Business Sustainability team in implementing a sustainability strategy that complements the Corporation's strategic priorities, including increasing business and environmental performance. Tyler has transformed Canadian Tire's approach to Sustainability into an innovation strategy that generates competitive advantage and bottom-line results.
Today, business sustainability is a strategic framework for innovation, growth and organizational enhancement, and perceptions have shifted to view environmental initiatives as potentially profitable. In 2010, Canadian Tire became one of the first public companies to report sustainability results quarterly in core financial documents. Metrics track the operational footprint, the socio-economic value to mitigate it and are embedded into operating plans. “It’s been very rewarding to have integrated reporting of sustainability metrics and initiatives in our core financial documents,” says Elm. “Our philosophy is to harness the engine of society that is business and tailor sustainability to the for-profit mandate. It’s a significant change from the traditional role of business and the compliance framework to use business operations and its value chain to drive economic benefits from improved environmental outcomes.”
Team: Sears Canada Inc.
The company: Sears Canada Inc. offers Canadian consumers a diverse array of shopping options, with department and specialty stores, Canada’s most extensive general merchandise catalogue, a comprehensive website and a broad range of home-related services.
The achievement: While Sears had a long history of giving back to the communities it served, until 2008, it had no formal sustainability programs, initiatives or policies. In 2008, Sears established a five-year sustainability roadmap, and by the end of 2011—two years ahead of schedule—it is expected that the Sustainability Team will have already delivered the key five year targets. These targets include a 20% carbon footprint reduction, making it easy for customers to live green by growing sales of eco products to $250 million, and nurturing a culture of sustainability among associates by establishing active green teams in all facilities and fostering sustainability literate buyers and marketers. “Our belief is that if associates aren’t engaged and participating, customers will notice,” says Dr. James Gray-Donald, Associate Vice-President and Sustainability Leader. “Over the next few years, we’ll bring even more depth to the connection between reducing our footprint, helping customers reduce their footprint and associates being intermediaries or guides for that journey.”