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1) ALL STAKEHOLDERS - The ultimate challenge of ESG is how you can embed it in the everyday behaviours and choices of all of your people. This isn’t just a senior leadership responsibility. In fact, the truth of how Socially effective you are, as an organization, is demonstrated in how you interact every day, in every way, at every level, with all of your stakeholders. It is your behaviours that speak the truth. It starts with your own people, who in turn will apply it to customers, suppliers, shareholders, the public, governments, First Nations and environmental interests. These are the baseline of stakeholders all Canadian businesses must consider.

2) WIN-WIN-WIN PHILOSOPHY - Truly owning and living the ESG values is as simple as consciously pursuing win-win-win solutions in all of your dealings with all of your stakeholders. In every interaction, do a reality check. Ask yourself if the situation is trending toward win-lose, or win-win, then adjust accordingly. Further, in most situations the choices you make affects more than one stakeholder, so ask who else is affected? Consider them as well and then you are working to a win-win-win solution. I believe that we have a competitive advantage as Canadians, given that this collaborative, win-win-win philosophy is endemic in our culture.

3) MINDFUL CONVERSATIONS – Engaging in a win-win-win dialogue typically requires you approach it in a different way. Being mindful of the win-win-win objective, and applying crucial conversation methodologies will set you up for much better socially responsible solutions. Start conversations recognizing your biases based on your own goals, hold those in check and start off with the single goal of understanding what needs define a win by the other stakeholders. Until you truly understand them, you cannot expect them to understand or care about your needs or goals. Once you have achieved mutual understanding, the next phase is looking for points of alignment, common goals or co-destiny wins. Moving the discussion to achieve some quick wins will prove out your genuine good intentions. Be patient and allow time to build trust, then tackle the harder issues over time, recognizing that win-win takes a lot more effort and creativity but successful outcomes in socially mutual wins are actually sustainable.

4) ANCHORING EFFECTIVE BEHAVIOURS – The last, and culturally most crucial step, is to stop, recognize and celebrate your social successes, and learn from your mistakes. Your culture is simply the pattern of behaviours you tolerate, and most importantly those you don’t tolerate within your organization. In the words of John Jones, “what gets measured gets done, what gets fed back gets done well, what gets rewarded gets repeated”. This is the function of ESG data collection, monitoring, analysis and reporting. Recording your environmental, social and governance wins, the lessons learned, rewarding the right behaviors and not tolerating the wrong, is the key to driving your ESG cultural transformation. The job is not finished until you’ve collected the stories and shared them, not as bragging, but as a role model to others. To grow a sustainable society, as a leader you must own your ESG responsibility, and be a role model challenging others to do the same, then your stories and your efforts will build your ESG brand, growing exponential value over time.

If these ideas aren’t a part of your strategic growth planning & execution, then this is your call to action to embrace ESG, or you may find it hard to attract investors, customers, employees, partners and ultimately ensure your continued success in these disruptive times.

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