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Bullfrog Power hosts companies dedicated to environmentalism

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On March 4, Bullfrog Power invited top executives from leading Canadian companies including KPMG, the TDL Group (Tim Hortons) and WWFCanada to hold a panel discussion on how companies can address communicating their sustainability plans with stakeholders. The panellists were Tonya Lagrasta, Manager, Community Leadership, KPMG; Greta Najcler, Manager of Environmental Affairs, TDL Group; and Hadley Archer, VP, Strategic Partnerships, WWF-Canada.

A key theme of the event was the idea that sustainability encompasses a behavioural change in business. Companies need to learn to grow and adapt, and integrate sustainability into their corporate mantras.

Although turning a country's business practises around to incorporate sustainability is most Bullfrog Power CBJ Onsite certainly a massive undertaking, it is a necessary one. Panellist Tonya Lagrasta from KPMG remarked that international companies in Canada can face challenges when trying to alter corporate practices, especially because our European counterparts tend to be further ahead when it comes to sustainability initiatives. She explains that being global can be good for companies looking to learn about how to become sustainable, but "with some of the stronger leading global partners being in Europe, they're afforded other opportunities that we're not," such as government incentives to operate sustainability practices.

Competing with policy

"[Sustainability] policies are much more aggressive, they're much further ahead. The country itself is able to support and facilitate much more advanced sustainability and corporate social responsibility programming," Lagrasta adds.

Lagrasta's comments reflect the outlook of many corporate head honchos in Canada, who say they "want to be as advanced as Europe, but policy and regulation just hasn't caught up to the stage that we can."

Although the present state seems grim, Lagrasta did say that "a meeting of minds at the global level is happening." KPMG is trying to "make strategy real, and hold people accountable."

"We are strongly engaging our people. Currently, efforts are focused on three pillars. One is focusing on the environmental aspect—reduction. The other two are being more strategically engaged, and supporting our employees, then also changing the way community is viewed."

Greta Najcler was on hand to speak for the TDL Group, which operates Tim Horton's all across the country, managing franchisees and the overall corporate direction. She explained that certain efforts that corporate heads at Tim Horton's would like to put in place are not always supported by franchisees, so it is difficult to implement sustainability initiatives across the board—unless you have 100 per cent buy-in from all franchises. The TDL Group is in the midst of "framing up" a sustainability plan. Part of that plan, according to Najcler, will be to take a proactive instead of reactive approach to sustainability planning. "We're trying to go into a process of planning so that we can take steps toward reaching goals. We're moving from a history where we were a private company and nothing is shared to being public—where we have to share things that aren't always comfortable."

Encouraging transparency

Najcler explains that the TDL Group is now encouraged to share information in order to develop sustainability initiatives, and operate under a mandate of transparency. However, it's not as easy for some franchisees in the Tim Horton's family as it is for others to adopt new principles—making transparency another challenge Canadian companies face. "The framework for our sustainability platform is the goal of trying to make a difference to individuals, communities, and the planet. We're using the Three Rs approach, and trying to embed sustainability and best practices into our supply chain."

Customers of enterprises all over Canada need to be engaged, and indeed, Najcler's point about the supply chain is critical. Sustainability runs deep as a concept, and it can be difficult to promote sustainable programs right down to the truck driver who transports products across the country.

She adds, "We need to engage our storeowners. Something as simple as that is not as easy as you think…[engaging] customers and [changing] their behaviours. A lot of work is required to change human behaviour. We need to vote on [the initiative], support it, and gain franchisee participation. It's not a decision that can happen in a week."

George Media Network

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