Tackling Canada’s Image Problem: CBSR’s 9th Annual Conference

How is Canada’s social and environmental performance measuring up globally? This is the question being asked at the 9th Annual CBSR Summit on October 26, 2011. The answer may surprise everyone.

Signing of bilateral free trade agreement between Canada and Honduras

As a Canadian, I am dismayed at the erosion of good will around the world toward my nation of birth. Canadian newspapers print self-admonishing captions such as “Canada backs profits, not human rights, in Honduras” revealing unsavory political policies which further threaten some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

The Canadian Image Problem

In December of last year, Dirk Matten and Andy Crane, business school professors at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto, wrote a scathing evaluation of Canada’s lack of leadership in ethical business practice around the world.

“For a long time Canada – certainly in the rest of the world – had this image of a very progressive, liberal and forward looking country in terms of social and environmental responsibilities of business…..This all sounds like long ago now.”

Matten and Crane were responding to the recent actions by the Canadian Parliament. Two important Bill’s were voted down. The first, Bill C-300, would have addressed the lagging or non-existent environmental and social responsibility standards required by Canadian mining companies operating around the world.

The second, Bill C-311, would have brought Canada closer to a serious position on climate change. Voting down the bill (using the Senate, which in Canada is appointed – not elected) was widely perceived as an attempt to placate the large oil and gas companies operating within Canada. Most Canadians, on the other hand, are eager to improve Canada’s environmental record. The problem is that Harper doesn’t actually believe in the science behind climate change research. The result is that most Canadians believe their nation is far more progressive than it actually is.

“It’s definitely a scandal,” said Graham Saul, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada. He added that the government was “muzzling scientists; they’re putting climate deniers in key oversight positions over research, and they’re reducing funding in key areas […] It’s almost as though they’re making a conscious attempt to bury the truth.” (read the full article here)

Conflicting Perceptions

This is the political and social setting for the 9th Annual CBSR Summit: Canadian Business as a Global Citizen: Social andEnvironmental Performance on the World Stage

Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR) asks “How is corporate Canada perceived around the world? How do our initiatives influence our bottom line and have an impact outside our borders?”

As CBSR rightly notes, much of corporate Canada’s actions around the world are positive:

“Canadian companies operate abroad, our supply chains extend outside our borders, we contribute when disaster strikes overseas, and we have one of the most culturally diverse workforces in the world. How is our social and environmental performance measuring up globally, and what action is required for a sustainable future?”

But the question is one of perception. And the answer may surprise everyone.

Here’s more info about the conference:

Attend the Conference

October 26, 2011, Toronto

Canadian Business as a Global Citizen: Social and Environmental Performance on the World Stage

Plan to attend the 9th CBSR Summit on Corporate Social Responsibility to:

Hear from Canadian and international visionaries including, keynote speaker Stephen Lewis, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Ryerson University, Celebrated Humanitarian and Former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Additional Summit Speakers include:

  • Andrew Heintzman, President & CEO of Investeco,
  • Dr. Michael Schull, Chair of Dignitas International and Past President of Médècins Sans Frontieres Canada
  • Janet Longmore, President and CEO of Digital Opportunity Trust.

Discover and Learn new ideas and best practices through discussions with business leaders concerning expectations and responsibilities, opportunities and risks in the global context.

Network with peers and thought leaders.

Take a deeper look at key global CSR issues by attending a morning workshop.

Be inspired by the lunch keynote presentation and participate in an afternoon of discussions.

If you are a CSR Professional, Senior Executive, Communications Director, Environment, Corporate Affairs or Sustainability Manager – the 2011 Summit is your day to learn, reflect and connect on the global role of Canadian business.

Register by September 15th to take advantage of the early-bird discounts.

We look forward to seeing you at the CBSR 2011 Summit!

Learn more and register at: www.cbsr.ca/summit

Contact Realized Worth for consulting services or speaking engagements on the topics of corporate volunteering, engagement through social media, or CSR: 317.372.4435 or chrisjarvis@realizedworth.com or angela@realizedworth.com