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Beyond CSR: A day of learning and sharing in Montreal, Quebec

On Friday, March 12th over a hundred and fifty students from McGill Desautels School of Management, the HEC’s Ecole de Gestion and business leaders from around Montreal gathered to share best practices, voice frustrations over sustainability roadblocks and celebrate mutual successes and advancements in CSR.  This attitude of learning and searching for solutions brought us to a conference called ‘Beyond CSR’ - a strong recognition that CSR is not an inclusive enough concept as we try to move towards holistic definitions of sustainability.  CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is about making business better through inclusion of social responsibility concepts in corporate planning.  Sustainability planning (corporate sustainability, sustainable development) is about ensuring that a business’ vision, goals and operations line up around sustainability.  This is the difference between doing ‘less bad’ by cleaning up and greening status quo business practices and addressing upstream issues in a holistic way (see this article in The Guardian with a concrete example). 

This new bend in the conversation is really exciting for me.  When completing my MBA at Concordia’s John Molson School of Business a few short years ago, even the basic concepts of CSR were not being taught.  Now we’re already pushing beyond CSR.  It’s quite inspiring and exciting for me to be involved in this.  One of the key issues highlighted at the conference was creating opportunities for young people to receive meaningful training and coaching in the sustainability field.  Many are lucky enough to do internships and attend lectures on sustainability, but not at the rates needed to create a significant workforce in this area.  This is in part why The Natural Step launched our Emerging Leaders program in January and why we’re looking to pair young people with organizations that need support in implementing sustainability solutions in a cost effective way.  If your organization is interested in hosting a coop student this summer to do a sustainability analysis, contact me today or learn more now on our website.   We are still accepting organizations!

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