There is no arguing that the ICT industry is in a leadership position economically, both in Canada and abroad. It weathered the economic challenges of the recession as well as any other industry, and its future looks extremely bright as digital economy strategies are becoming commonplace in public policy around the world.
While this is cause to celebrate, it places a serious responsibility on the shoulders of ICT industry members. As our products and services are continuously evolving to better serve our customers, so should the way we interact with our customers in the communities in which we live.
An abundance of existing research points to the bottom-line benefits of enacting a corporate social responsibility strategy, including: operational efficiency gains; improved risk management; favourable relations with the investment community and improved access to capital; enhanced employee relations; stronger relationships with communities and an enhanced license to operate; and improved reputation and branding.
But let us be reminded of the other reasons to be social responsible: to leave this world safer and healthier than how we found it, so that our families and neighbours can live well for generations to come. This requires us to be economic leaders, as well as leaders in charity and the promotion of all people’s well being. After all, the ICT industry is in the position it’s in because of its drive and ability to constantly innovate on and improve the current state of all things – from speeding up desktops, to completely revamping business models. Why not take that exact philosophy and apply it to rectifying the inequalities and injustices that plague our communities and world.
A wise person once wrote, “‘I must do something’ always solves more problems than ‘Something must be done.’” In this issue of ITAC Online, we celebrate a few people and companies who are doing “something” to make our world a better place.Tell us your thoughts on this story
When CSR makes (dollars and) sense
To transform a burdensome task into a good deed – that is the idea behind Compugen’s “Green4Good” program. The program focuses on the disposal of IT assets, what is traditionally a costly endeavour for any company. Through Green4Good, however, Robin Stroud (Leasing Account Executive) and his team at Compugen Finance Inc. have developed a way to turn this cost centre into an opportunity to donate to charity.
“Computer equipment comes back off the lease and we have had to develop a manner to refurbish and then resell those assets once those three, four, five year old desktops come back. We refurbish them, recertify them, and put an operating system on them then we sell them through the retail chain mainly. And because we had to develop this robust network to do it, we figured, ‘Hey, why not offer this to other corporations?’”
So they started to approach a number of Canada’s largest corporations with the idea.
“We can go to any organization and say, ‘Here is your list of IT assets. We think they’re worth $10,000 on the resale market. We could write you a cheque today for $10,000 and be done with it, or with the size of your organization what does $10,000 mean to you? Not a heck of a lot.’ So we’ve aligned ourselves with charities and we’ve asked corporations to instead of taking that cheque, let us donate that amount to the charity of your choice,” he said. “To most companies, you have to pay money to get rid of these assets. That’s what one company told us – they were going to have to spend $30,000 to recycle their old computers. And we said, ‘No you don’t. In fact, we’ll take the computers and we’ll donate $10,000 in your name to your charity of choice.’ It was a no-brainer.”
Compugen boasts four key rewards for any company that adopts the program:
An improved ROI with IT assets, by removing the entire cost typically associated with asset-disposal;
Protected intellectual property in the process of disposing of those IT assets, by wiping any data-bearing assets to US Department of Defence standards, among other measures;
The promotion of environmental stewardship, by recycling the aged IT assets or, in most cases, by refurbishing them for reuse
A positive public relations opportunity, by giving a company an opportunity to demonstrate their CSR initiatives to the public.
“When you don’t know who you’re dealing with your assets could get shipped on a container and end up in an acid bath somewhere in China or India. So you’ve got people working in these third-world countries, standing in an acid bath, trying to get the precious metals out of these computers, working for about 35 cents per day – and these regions just happen to have some the highest cancer rates in the world,” Robin said. “So imagine what that would do to your reputation if some of your assets were found to be over in India or China in one of these acid baths. It would have pretty serious consequences.”
“To take that a step further, we give charities the option: a lot of the charities the moneys go to are hurting from an IT standpoint. They don’t have a budget to stay current with technology, so we give them an option. We say, “As an IT organization, we can help you get technologically current, get some of the latest equipment to help you with your efficiencies as part of that spend. If you’ve got $10,000 that Company A just donated through the Green4Good program, you can take that in cash if you want, or spend it on much needed IT requirements.”
One charity that Compugen has partnered with is the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness.
“They have all sorts of programs that had been put on the back burner because of lack of donations. And with the downturn of the economy, donations are at an all-time low. So they’re looking for creative ways to generate that money to fund the programs,” Robin said. And Green4Good is proving to be a perfect fit.
The program is a made-in-Canada CSR initiative, and Robin hopes that it will cross the border into the US within the next couple of years.Tell us your thoughts on this story
ITAC Board Member profile:
Andrea Stairs, Country Manager, eBay Canada
When Andrea Stairs joined eBay Canada in 2006, she not only joined one of the most revolutionary companies to ever enter the online marketplace – she also joined a real, living community.
She had completed an Arts degree at McGill, a joint MBA/Law degree at the University of Toronto, a stint in investment banking, as well as some time working on strategy for Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy at Gap Inc.
At eBay, Andrea took on direct business ownership, and as Country Manager, her key priorities have become connecting with eBay’s community of Canadian buyers and sellers, ensuring they are engaged in the site, and taking advantage of the site’s worldwide nature.
“eBay arose out of a community. It is – at its foundation – a platform that links individuals through trade, so we’ve always had a very strong community orientation. In fact, we call ourselves the first social media company, because we’ve had discussion boards since our inception in 1995, where one community member would help another upload photos, or figure out what was the best pricing strategy. So it’s always been very much based on our community, and acknowledging the tremendous importance of our community to our success.”
This year, she joined in the celebration of eBay’s tenth anniversary in Canada. Over these ten years, eBay has attracted 11-million Canadian members – almost six-million of which have purchased something on eBay, representing $7-billion worth of goods traded. Andrea said Canadians are currently buying over $1-billion each year on eBay, and selling over a million items per month.
Not surprisingly, that strong sense of community engenders a culture of community responsibility. eBay has harnessed the power of its massive online community and marketplace to create a number of major corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.
“The eBay marketplace is an extremely powerful platform for commerce, but it’s also an extremely powerful platform for doing good,” Andrea said.
Earlier this year, eBay partnered with the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) to create “Hockey for Haiti,” an online auction of game-worn Olympic hockey jerseys which has raised nearly $180,000 to date for rebuilding projects in Haiti.
eBay regularly hosts online charity auctions for dozens of Canadian charities, including Children’s Wish Foundation and Free The Children, selling a grand variety of hot items and experiences, including tickets to Justin Bieber concerts and Colbert Report tapings.
Andrea says most CSR programs at eBay start at a grassroots level and grow from there. She said the company noticed a desire among its community to start giving back, and so the company supported it. There is now an eBay employee devoted to being a liaison between eBay Canada and partner charities, as well as a self-serve option on eBay’s website where charities can identify themselves to the company and apply for fee credits.
The eBay Green Team started the same way: a small group of employees who wanted to implement simple green solutions, like getting rid of the Styrofoam cups in their break rooms. Going green is now a major focus for the company. eBay became carbon neutral a couple of years ago, and Andrea says they consider their carbon footprint in all infrastructure-related decision-making.
But the most important message toward environmental sustainability for eBay stems from the company’s global online marketplace:
“Often, the green product is the one that exists already,” Andrea said. “Avoiding the environmental impact of creating a new item is both economically responsible and environmentally responsible.”
And when CSR benefits the eBay community, it benefits Andrea and her eBay colleagues too.
“Our success is totally dependent on our community’s success. There is an imperative for all corporations to have CSR programs, and I think they should all be slightly different and tailored to make sense to the consumer, employee, or other stakeholder,” Andrea said. “We look to our community to let us know what’s important to them – buyers, sellers, and employees – and that’s how our CSR work has been developed.”
Check out www.eBay.ca/charity for eBay’s current charity auctions.Tell us your thoughts on this story
CSR, from the inside out
For the multinational corporation TATA Group, CSR is more than a corporate strategy – it is a way of life. And according to Mukesh Gupta, Director of Strategic Relations, TATA Consultancy Services (TCS), it has been the company’s raison d’être since its first days in 1868.
“CSR, to broadly define it, is responsible capitalism. It’s every fibre of our organization: to improve the quality of life of the communities we serve, through leadership in vectors of national economic significance,” Mukesh said.
It all started in Victorian Era India, during the British occupation/colonization of India. At that time, yarn was being harvested in India and exported elsewhere to be made into fabric; then, the fabric was imported back into India. The value was being added elsewhere, and so the Indian population was not seeing any of the major economic upsides from being a part of the fabric-making process. That’s until founder of the Tata Group bought a closed spinning mill – to help his people find value-adding employment opportunities within their own country, and take control of their economic fate. Ever since, altruism has stood as a foundational business principle for all TATA leaders.
And that’s only the beginning. TATA now operates in every major international market (with sales and marketing operations across Canada, and distributions centres in Montréal and Mississauga) and in every TATA establishment, CSR initiatives run rampant.
Mukesh said a CSR strategy must be about more than how to do business, but rather how to conduct one’s self in life. And this often starts inside the company’s walls. TATA implemented the eight-hour work day internally in 1912, and it became legislation in India in 1948; TATA started giving maternity benefits in 1928, and they became law in 1946; TATA created a retirement act in 1937, and the Indian government created theirs in 1972; and even though TATA has been giving free healthcare for its employees since 1917, public healthcare is still not the law in India. These are remarkable corporate policies in Canadian terms as well: Canada introduced maternity benefits in 1921, the Old Age Security Plan in 1927, public healthcare in 1946, and the Canadian Pension Plan not until 1965.
The company is also heavily involved in external CSR programs.
“We aim to evoke trust among consumers, our employees, our shareholders, and the whole community – and that means playing an active role in every community in which we operate around the world,” he said.
But while most CSR programs are company-driven, things work a little differently at TATA: all programs start with one person, and metrics mean very little.
“It’s individual-driven. It has to be. Ownership has to come from people,” Mukesh said. “And the moment you start taking metrics, automatically this is the first step corruption. If you tell people you’re going to start tracking their hours, the expectation would be very simple: the more hours, the better the review. One cannot legislate this. You can only create an environment where people feel compelled to be compassionate and want to give. And this can only come naturally.”
TCS breaks its CSR initiatives down into three levels:
People level: this includes individual volunteerism, blood donations, tutoring at local schools, etc.;
Organization or community level: which includes involvement in community initiatives such as managing relief efforts after the 2004 Tsunami, or supporting the relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina; and
Core-competency level: this, for example, would include using tools and techniques from a TATA commercial operation to drive initiatives such as their computer-based functional literacy program.
For Mukesh, contribution comes in the form of giving cooking workshops and donating all proceeds to charity. Through the “Spice Up Food” program (www.spiceupfood.com) Mukesh and his wife regularly invite a number of people eager to learn how to cook healthy Indian Vegetarian food into their home for an evening of culinary fun. In the past the program has donated to a number of local and international charities, from the Canadian Liver Foundation to Mukesh’s daughter’s own charity, Nukoko, which provides access to schooling for girls in Togo, West Africa.
“It’s a small effort, but it has all the pieces of the Tata spirit,” Mukesh said.
Mukesh said CSR is all about being a responsible citizen, and taking that ethos into the workplace. As Jamsetji N. Tata, the Group's founder put it: “There is one kind of charity common enough among us… It is that patchwork philanthropy which clothes the ragged, feeds the poor, and heals the sick. I am far from decrying the noble spirit which seeks to help a poor or suffering fellow being… [However] what advances a nation or a community is not so much to prop up its weakest and most helpless members, but to lift up the best and the most gifted, so as to make them of the greatest service to the country.”
“Everyday I’m so fortunate that I’m able to see this responsible capitalism, corporate responsibility, and corporate sustainability in every part of the act we do,” Mukesh said. “We can only do CSR when we ourselves are responsible citizens.”Tell us your thoughts on this story
June 22, 2010
June 22, 2010
For a full event listing, and to register for ITAC events, go to: itac.ca/event_cal
Other News and Events
ITAC invites you to our Annual General Meeting/Chairs’ Dinner
Robert Watson, President and CEO, SaskTel, and ITAC’s incoming Chair, cordially invites you to attend the ITAC Annual Chairs’ Dinner:
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
6:00p.m. – Cocktail Reception; 7:00p.m. – Dinner & Awards Presentation
The Westin Bristol Place, Toronto Airport, 950 Dixon Road, Toronto
The evening will be an opportunity to celebrate and honour the accomplishments of:
Mr. Tom Turchet, ITAC’s Chair from 2009-2010;
ITAC’s IT Hero Award winners; and
ITAC’s member community and volunteers.
Attendees will also be given the chance to hear the evening’s feature speaker, President of IBM Canada, Bruce Ross.
Corporate table of 8 - $1595 members ($1795 non-members) Individual tickets - $225 members ($275 non-members) *GST will be applied to prices above
For more information or to RSVP, please contact Cindy Scott, First Avenue Events, at email@example.com, or 613-233-7600.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Susan Rogers of Xerox Canada Inc. named ITAC Volunteer of the Year
ITAC is extremely proud to announce Susan Rogers as the winner of the 2010 ITAC Volunteer of the Year Award. Manager of Diversity and Inclusion at Xerox Canada Inc., Susan’s undying passion for diversity and inclusion in the workplace contributed greatly to the development ITAC’s diversity portfolio.
Last year, the ITAC Board of Directors created a Diversity Forum to address the under-representation of women on the ITAC Board and in the industry in general. Susan was a much-needed pioneering force in the establishment of this forum over the past year, working to ensure that ITAC pursues the appropriate goals. Her network of personal contacts has helped to establish a robust forum, setting realistic goals but also aspiring one day to fulfill the dream of a fully inclusive workplace.
This Diversity Forum has quickly become a dynamic new addition to ITAC’s work and is making a difference. Last June, the ITAC Board had one woman on it. Today, there are five. And there are plans afoot to move the yardstick in other key areas, such as women in the ICT workforce.
Susan has been the organizing force behind this new initiative and is a major contributor to what the group has achieved so far. She has contributed her knowledge, expertise, and time in a variety of ways, and for that, we thank her and are thrilled to provide her with this year’s award.
ITAC Announces Winners of the 2010 IT Hero Awards
ITAC has selected the winners of the 2010 IT Hero Awards, recognizing individuals who have assisted their communities in a significant way through the use or application of ICT. From coast to coast and from all walks of life, IT Heroes have given countless hours of their time and expertise, and have shared their knowledge to promote the use of IT. They range from seniors, coaches, and students to business and community volunteers.
The awards program is divided into two categories:
The Community IT Hero Award recognizes an individual, group or not-for-profit organization that can demonstrate the creative application of information technology in improving the lives of Canadians.
Winner of this year’s Community IT Hero Award is Metabolic Health Monitor (MHM), a monitoring tool that aids clinicians in tracking key metabolic risk markers such as personal history, weight, BMI, blood pressure, and laboratory values. Dr. Tony Cohn of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) developed the system, with the aim of increasing the quality of life among one of Canada’s most vulnerable populations: people suffering from serious mental illness, particularly schizophrenia. “There has been lots of research being done internationally showing that people with serious mental illness actually die a lot earlier than people in the general population, mostly because of physical health problems,” Dr. Cohn said. MHM allows clinicians to study these patients and modify their medication regimens in order to help them lead healthier, happier lives. Dr. Cohn said the system will help clinicians treat mental illness patients on a more holistic level, recognizing that mental illnesses pose not only mental threats, but major physical ones as well. “This population, historically, has not received the best quality medical care, so this shines a flashlight on a high-risk population that has not received the attention it is due.”
The Corporate IT Hero Award recognizes a for-profit public or privately-owned business that can demonstrate the creative application of IT in improving the lives of Canadians.
Stature (created by Dyadem), a web-based enterprise software platform for managing the risks associated with operating hazardous processes, and the quality issues associated with designing and manufacturing products, is the winner of this year’s Corporate IT Hero Award. Stature allows companies to manage and mitigate all of their various risks – to employees, equipment, the environment, the community, and others – on a centralized platform, creating a more efficient, visible and interconnected risk management system. This results in improved safety, health and environmental compliance and the ability to produce high quality products that protect consumer safety. With the recent BP oil spill disaster, the need for a strong risk management solution for the industry is clear. Stature aims to prevent this type of incident, in the end protecting the environment, and in many cases, saving lives. “It’s an honor to receive this award and be recognized for improving the lives of Canadians, and our friends across the globe,” said Kevin North, President and CEO of Dyadem. “Our software is used by many leaders in their respective industries, helping them more accurately capture risk trends, allowing them to implement preventive measures and make informed decisions faster. This translates into better products for consumers and safer processes that protect employees, the environment, and the surrounding community.”
We would like to congratulate both Metabolic Health Monitor and the creators of Stature, for their excellent, innovative work in creating IT products and services that improve the lives of Canadians.
The IT Hero Awards program was developed in 2001 to celebrate and recognize the achievements of people across Canada who used technology in innovative ways to help others. The awards were launched as a feature of IT WEEK, a time to reflect on the successful impact of IT on society.
Contribute to Canada’s digital economy strategy consultations
On May 10, 2010, Industry Minister Tony Clement in partnership with Ministers Moore (Heritage) and Finlay (HRSDC), launched a consultation exercise, which seeks to inform the development of a comprehensive, multi-year digital economy strategy.
The development of a digital economy strategy is a priority for the Government of Canada. Views are being sought from Canadians including industry stakeholders via an interactive website at www.digitaleconomy.gc.ca. Contributors can submit views through either the “Ideas Forum” or by way of a “formal submission. These consultations will help inform the development of a made-in-Canada digital economy strategy that will contribute to a more prosperous and competitive Canada.
To ensure success, it is important that Canadians and industry stakeholders alike share their views. The on-line consultations will run for 9 weeks until July 9, 2010.
PEI Announces Recycling Program for Electronic Waste
Electronic waste will be diverted from landfill sites in Prince Edward Island with the introduction of a new province-wide recycling program starting July 1, 2010, said Environment, Energy and Forestry Minister Richard Brown.
Government has accepted a plan from Atlantic Canada Electronics Stewardship (ACES), an industry organization representing electronics manufacturers, distributors and other stakeholders, to manage a recycling program, said Minister Brown.
“There is growing public awareness about the risks to human health and the environment from dumping products that contain toxic chemicals into our landfill sites,” said Minister Brown. “Government is creating alternatives that will benefit our environment and our Island community.”
ACES has operated a similar Electronics Recycling Program in Nova Scotia since 2008. “As an industry-led, non-profit association, ACES is looking forward to providing a responsible electronics recycling program for residents of Prince Edward Island,” said Gerard MacLellan, Executive Director of ACES. “We’re committed to working closely with the Government of PEI and Island Waste Management Corporation to ensure unwanted electronics are diverted from landfills and recycled responsibly.”
The new program will address the growing environmental problem of electronic waste in PEI’s solid waste system.
“I think most Islanders would be shocked to know that 700 metric tonnes of electronics are disposed of each year in local landfills,” said Minister Brown. “Implementing this new program will send a strong message about the responsibility we all have to protect the environment.”
The ACES program is not funded by government but through an environmental handling fee paid by consumers and producers of electronics products.
A fee will be applied to the purchase of new electronic products to assist with the cost of the recycling program. The fees will vary from 40 cents for digital cameras, $2.10 for laptop computers and $10.50 for desktop computers.
Products that can be recycled include computers, televisions, portable stereos and CD players, VCRs and DVD players, and non-cellular telephones. These products will no longer be accepted in residential solid waste carts or commercial waste collections.
ACES will work with Island Waste Management Corporation to set up convenient drop-off locations across the province. IWMC will publicize details within the next week. Information about the ACES PEI launch is available at www.acestewardship.ca.
“I am pleased to see industry accept responsibility for the management of this new electronics recycling plan and I would like to thank them for their leadership on this project,” said Minister Brown.