7. How can Canadian organizations become more innovative?
A 2012 report from the Conference Board of Canada ranked Canada 14 out of 17 countries for its capacity to innovate. Canadian companies are not taking the risks required to generate innovations, and it’s not surprising. Large companies have investors that demand quarterly earnings as well as big brands that represent massive investments of time and resources. That leaves little room for failure and few slack resources for experimentation. In an era of razor-thin margins and just-in-time manufacturing, it’s hard to justify investing in creative pursuits with unguaranteed paybacks.
“People look to us – the leaders in sustainability – to identify the next big thing. We invest time to determine what that innovation frontier for sustainability in our company could be.”
NBS’s report on Innovating for Sustainability reveals ways companies can reduce their impact on the environment, create positive social change that’s also good for business, and re-imagine their business models. The issue remains, however, that firms are caught between conflicting mandates to maintain the status quo and to do something new – even as their staff and budgets shrink.
“People look to us – the leaders in sustainability – to identify the next big thing” said Debbie Baxter of Loyalty One. “At LoyaltyOne, we invest time to determine what that innovation frontier for sustainability in our company could be.”
8. How can companies embed social license to operate into their strategy?
Social license to operate refers to community members’ tacit willingness to allow a company to operate in their region. While the term originated with the mining sector, social license is critical for nearly all businesses.
“The challenge for business leaders today is establishing sustainability as ‘the way we do business.’ Sustainability can no longer be just a ‘nice to do.’”
Maintaining social license is a strategic imperative, so sustainability managers wonder how they can frame sustainability as a way to manage risk and create efficiencies: “The challenge for business leaders today is establishing sustainability as ‘the way we do business’,” said John Page of TELUS. “Sustainability can no longer be just a ‘nice to do’.”
For many business leaders, social license to operate has changed in recent years: “Maintaining a company’s social license to operate used to mean engaging stakeholders and consulting them on projects that affected them,” said Brenda Goehring of BC Hydro. “Increasingly, however, it means generating shared benefits for both the company and its affected stakeholders.”