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Top company profile: Mountain Equipment Co-op

Why outdoor gear and clothing retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op topped this year's Best 50.

David Labistour, the chief executive officer of Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), doesn’t believe that consumers truly vote with their wallets when it comes to sustainability issues.

He points to the tragic collapse in April 2013 of Rana Plaza in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, in which more than 1,100 garment factory workers were killed. In the months that followed there was a consumer outcry, as westerners came to terms with the working conditions in the places where much of our clothing is made. But Bangladesh did not export less clothing during the remainder of that year.

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Top company profile: Westpac

Westpac aims to take corporate responsibility to the next level, while increasing value for shareholders.

The company that stands above all others in this year’s Corporate Knights Global 100 ranking is a firm that has been at the forefront of the sustainability movement for decades, and that continues to stay ahead of the curve.

Westpac Group is Australia’s oldest bank – in fact, one of the country’s oldest companies with roots tracing back to 1817. Its latest annual report boasts that between 2012 and 2013 its customer base rose from 11.8 million people to 12.2 million, its profits climbed from $5.97 billion Australian to $6.82 billion, and its return on equity increased from 14 per cent to 15.4 per cent.

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Competitive disadvantage

By Tara Perkins
Social Capital Partners is breaking down employment barriers that are keeping millions of North Americans out of work.

Top company profile: Desjardins Group

For decades now, employees of Desjardins have been able to hop on one of the company’s shuttle buses to commute between its offices in Montreal and Levis, Que. The shuttles, which are decked out with space to work at laptops, make nearly 800 trips per year, carrying close to 20 employees each time. Desjardins estimates that if those people were to drive on their own, close to 600 tonnes of greenhouse-gas emissions would be released.

But those annual emissions savings weren't enough for Desjardins. In the last couple of years, it has been putting a big push on alternative transportation in an effort to further cut its environmental footprint. Some of the emphasis has shifted from buses to bikes.

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The wisdom of youth

By Tara Perkins
Should there be a minimum age requirement to sit on a corporate board?

Clinton is a doctoral student with a master’s degree from Oxford who has worked for a renowned consulting firm, as well as one of the world’s largest hedge funds. But IAC, a NASDAQ-listed firm that owns websites such as Ask.com and The Daily Beast, was forced to defend its decision. Had Clinton gained enough wisdom in her 31 years to make her a valuable director in her own right, or was she appointed because of who her parents are?

It’s an interesting discussion, one that begs the question: should there be a minimum age requirement to sit on a corporate board?

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