Now in its 13th year, Canada’s Greenest Employers is an editorial competition organised by the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project (managed by Mediacorp Canada Inc). This special designation recognises the employers that lead the nation in creating a culture of environmental awareness in their organisations. These employers have developed exceptional sustainability initiatives – and are attracting people to their organisations because of their environmental leadership.
Each employer is evaluated by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers in terms of: (1) the unique environmental initiatives and programmes they have developed; (2) the extent to which they have been successful in reducing the organisation’s own environmental footprint; (3) the degree to which their employees are involved in these programmes and whether they contribute any unique skills; and (4) the extent to which these initiatives have become linked to the employer’s public identity, attracting new employees and clients to the organisation.
Here are some of the reasons that The Co-operators, Farm Mutual Re and Desjardins Group were selected as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers (2020):
The Co-operators offers a number of insurance products to encourage its customers to make greener choices, including insurance discounts for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) construction, automobile insurance discounts for hybrid and electric vehicles, and an Impact Investing programme, with over 7% of its investment portfolio directed to investments that provide positive financial returns alongside positive social or environmental impacts.
Along with developing aggressive recycling programmes, The Co-operators provides employees with two paid volunteer days off each year, with many employees opting to support local environmental causes — the company also works directly with Habitat for Humanity to salvage usable materials from commercial and residential property claims for donation to their ReStore locations – since the programme’s inception, over 130,000 kg of materials has been diverted from landfill.
Farm Mutual Re
Farm Mutual Re’shead office features numerous green features inside and out, including rainwater collection, green roofs, drought-resistant plantings (with weeding done by hand), a ground-source heat pump for heating and cooling, an onsite community garden (with an annual harvest conducted by employees and donated to a local food bank), photocell computer-controlled sunshades, sensor-controlled lighting, and low-flow and motion sensor water fixtures.
Outside, Farm Mutual’s car park is kept clear in the winter using a calcium alternative to replace salt for melting ice and reduce harmful salt runoff. Employees at Farm Mutual Re “walk the talk” by volunteering twice a year to clean up garbage alongside a section of a company-adopted road. Employees also organise regular collection drives for eyeglasses, used electronics and batteries
Desjardins Group has longstanding programmes to encourage members to move from paper to e-statements and launched an internal paper reduction challenge that has led to reduced paper consumption (by 18% since 2014), as well as a simultaneous increase in the use of recycled paper.
In 2010, Desjardins launched the alternative transportation programme “A New Route for Your Commute“, encouraging employees to think about the impacts of single car commuting. The initiative features transit subsidies, discounts for bike-share programmes, locker rooms and showers for bike commuters (with over 1,000 users in Montréal), an online carpool sign-up system and a daily shuttle bus between the Lévis and Montréal offices – a programme that enabled over 17,870 individual trips last year, which is the equivalent of eliminating nearly 700 tonnes of greenhouse gases.
Desjardins also introduced special financing rates for members who purchase new hybrid and electric vehicles, as well as discounts on insurance rates (over 50 vehicle models now qualify) and special incentives for green home purchases or renovations. Employees can also incorporate environmental sustainability into their long-term investments through the “SocieTerra” portfolio of investment and savings products.