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Clean business model doesn’t mean lower profits among top 50

Ron Walter writes about the top 50 corporate citizens in Canada
Bizworld by Ron Walter

Profits and productivity don’t have to be sacrificed by corporations with environmentally-friendly objectives.

That appears the message drawn from the list of top 50 best corporate citizens in Canada, as rated by Corporate Knights Magazine.

The best corporate citizens are rated on a long list of criteria ranging from the ratio of CEO pay to average workers, clean revenue, board and executive gender diversity, sustainable executive pay, productivity per unit of emissions, employee turnover, injuries and fatalities, and intensity of energy, carbon and water use.

Number One on the list is the Co-operators, headquartered in Ontario but with extensive interests in Saskatchewan. Number 48 is Farm Credit Canada, headquartered in Saskatchewan.

The $41 billion asset Co-operators offers business property, casualty and life insurance with a business model balancing profits with community needs.

The company was the first in Canada to offer water damage insurance in vulnerable areas and to offer storm surge protection policies in coastal areas.

Generous employee benefits such as mental health benefits and a female CEO helped land the top ranking.

Some of the measures used to evaluate the best 50 corporate citizens are rather interesting when compared with operations of the best 50 Canadian corporations.

The CEO-to-worker pay ratio of the best corporate citizens is $66 to $1 but sits at $81 to $1 for the best 50 large companies.

The revenue per cubic metre of water used, $17,535 versus $14,774, shows better efficiency.

The waste productivity ratio (revenue per tonne of waste) amounts to $9.98 million versus $3.45 million for large corporations.

The best corporate citizens have 32.1 per cent of women board members compared with 2.3 per cent. In women senior executives, the best corporate citizens have 22.7 per cent versus 16.4 per cent.

And the best corporate citizens generate 34.9 per cent of revenue from clean products compared with 3.9 per cent for the top 50 corporations.

Surprisingly, a number corporations unexpectedly placed among the best 50 corporate citizens.

Miner/ore processor Teck Resources earned fourth place in the standings with oil and gas producer/retailer Suncor ranking 15th on the list.

CNR placed 20th with Catalyst Paper, a forestry/paper maker, ranked 22nd. Enbridge, pipelines and utilities, is 39th.

Gold miner IAMgold ranked 41st with Canfor Pulp and Paper 47th while meat processor Maple Leaf Foods came in 49th.

Thirteen of the top 50 are in the energy generating utility business, mostly in electricity and natural gas energy generation. Eight are banks or insurance companies.

The lowest CEO-to-worker ratio of 2.4 to 1 was Farm Credit Canada while Vancouver City Savings Credit Union had the highest percentage of women on the board of directors at 89 per cent.

York University from Ontario, led senior women executives at 70 per cent.

Ron Walter can be reached at

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