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Corporate responsibility award winners show how Canadians are changing the way they do business

A senior vice-president of an aggregate company who spearheaded the formation of an independent not-for-profit organization to develop draft standards for a world-class approach to aggregate extraction.

A director of business development who initiated an e-boutique providing innovative recycled products.

A VP who implemented a CSR program that reduced its footprint, launched a funding program in sustainable tourism abroad and created innovative partnerships to benefit communities in poorer countries, including their help in the fight against child sex tourism.

These are just three examples from 20 winners and three honourable mentions whose work in the field of corporate responsibility is integral to creating sustainable business and prosperity that doesn’t come at a cost to our environment. Their accomplishments were honoured at the first-ever Excellence in Corporate Responsibility (ECR) Awards by Green Living Enterprises.

The ECR Awards, held October 26th, at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox, were developed to honour and celebrate corporate Canadians for outstanding work and dedication towards creating sustainable and ethical practices within the business framework.

“Highlighting the efforts of such a distinguished group of award recipients is not only our honour, but our responsibility,” says Laurie Simmonds, President of Green Living Enterprises. “These Canadians have demonstrated a commitment to the highest standards and ideals of Corporate Social Responsibility, and by example should serve as a model that inspires excellence in others.”

The awards honour every level of influence within small, medium and large corporations across Canada and across a wide range of industries, from resources to technology to sustainable housing and much more.

The ECR Awards recognize that the change can take a lifetime of dedication and hard work. This is why it created the Outstanding Achievement Award, and awarded it to the late Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface, Inc. Anderson’s life’s work and his legacy embody all the goals of the ECR awards. Anderson’s daughter, Mary Anne Lanier, told the audience how proud she was of her dad, when in 1994 he decided to make corporate responsibility a core value, after he became aware of the decline of the biosphere and how his company was a major contributor. “Ray said that making CSR part of the core business objective became part of his own success, and without it, he wouldn’t have felt that he was a success.”

Anderson’s example proves it is never too late to make change: after experiencing a mid-career epiphany, he dedicated himself to Mission Zero— his company’s promise to eliminate any negative impact it may have on the environment by the year 2020. By the time of his death, Anderson had brought his company more than halfway towards its goal, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent, fossil fuel consumption by 60 percent (favouring renewable forms of energy), waste to landfill by over 80 percent, and water use by 82 percent. During that same period, Interface avoided over $450 million in costs, increased sales by 63 percent and more than doubled their earnings. Anderson was a role model, inspiration and mentor to many.

The ECR Awards program was developed by industry experts with deep knowledge of corporate responsibility within Canada, including Laurie Simmonds of Green Living Enterprises, Valérie Bécaert of CIRAIG, Toby Heaps of Corporate Knights, Bob Mann of Jantzi-Sustainalytics, Chad Park of The Natural Step Canada, Marlo Raynolds of the Pembina Institute, sustainability consultant Lorraine Smith, and author and sustainability expert Bob Willard.

The expert panel of judges applied a rigorous assessment to its winners, ranking them from one to 100 in a multitude of key areas in corporate responsibility. The judges included: Bob Willard, a leading expert, consultant and author in corporate sustainability strategies; Kelly Baxter, Executive Director of The Natural Step Canada; Valérie Bécaert, Executive Director of CIRAIG; Heather Lang, Director of Research at Jantzi-Sustainalytics; and Matt McCulloch, Director of Consulting Services at the Pembina Institute.

View Green Living ECR Awards photo gallery»

For details on the winners and how to apply for next year’s Green Living ECR Awards, go to http://greenlivingenterprises.ca/ecr-awards.