Teaching the teachers

TakingITGlobal has a mission to increase the amount of sustainability learning in classrooms. That means empowering teachers.

There’s so much happening at TakingITGlobal’s Toronto office, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

The organization’s website says it “empowers youth to understand and act on the world’s greatest challenges.” Beyond that, and the fact it hosts an online discussion board for its more than 500,000 young members, it’s difficult to wrap one’s mind around all that they do – from helping under-30 entrepreneurs develop their ideas to holding nationwide youth competitions.

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Running it right

Gaz Métro CEO Sophie Brochu talks up efficiency and gives thumbs down to controversial Energy East pipeline.

Sophie Brochu used to listen to tapes of customers calling into the service line at Gaz Métro while she ran on the treadmill. After pressing “play” on her cassette player one day in 2000, the first thing she heard was a woman crying about the cost of her gas bill. The price of natural gas had skyrocketed that year in response to higher demand in the United States.

“I will always remember her saying, ‘How am I going to do this? Why is it so expensive?” Brochu recalls.

That incident made it clear to Brochu, vice-president of business development at the time, that the company had to do something to help out struggling customers.

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A plan for the planet

The president of the World Bank says it’s crucial to de-couple carbon emissions and economic growth.

The leader of the World Bank Group has the worthy challenge of protecting the world’s most vulnerable populations from the chaos created by climate change.

That means tackling two intertwined problems: ending extreme poverty and stopping climate change.

The first is daunting enough. As the Economist has pointed out, “a lot will have to go right” in order for the bank to achieve its goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.

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A Force for Good

Is there such a thing as enlightened capitalism? And should we trust financial experts to show us the way?

At first glance, I was put off by the title of John Taft’s new book, A Force for Good: How Enlightened Finance can Restore Faith in Capitalism.

When I saw the roster of contributors I became even more suspicious: Mary Schapiro, former chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Barbara Novick, vice chairman of BlackRock, Roger Martin, academic director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, just to name a few.

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Why financial reform isn’t enough to restore the public’s faith in capitalism

Three financial heavyweights got together to talk about the failures of capitalism and how to fix them.

Believe it or not, there are people in the financial sector who are ready to shake things up.

John Taft is the head of US Wealth Management for RBC and an active member of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), the leading securities trade group in the United States.

In his own words, he “was there” when the financial crisis hit Wall Street and rippled through global markets in 2008.

force for good-mech.inddHis new book, A Force for Good: How Enlightened Finance Can Restore Faith in Capitalism, out March 17, is a thought experiment on how the next iteration of capitalism might help people live better lives.

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First Nations-owned mining company finds silver lining to industry problems

Darrell Beaulieu, CEO of DEMCo, says the time is right for First Nations to take an active role in resource development.

The mining industry is struggling. Junior exploration companies are desperately trying to raise money, and majors are facing volatile commodity prices paired with resistance from communities. It’s bad news.

But one company, owned entirely by the Dene First Nations in the Northwest Territories (NWT), sees a silver lining. By picking up properties at fire sale prices, Denendeh Exploration and Mining Company (DEMCo) is hoping to “create momentum for a fundamental change in First Nation participation in resource development in the NWT and Canada.”

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Homophobic culture permeates mining industry

Experts say mining companies need to step into the 21st century to take LGBT worker issues seriously.

Lynne Descary has had to endure more than two decades of insults, inappropriate comments about her sexuality and assertions she has taken away jobs from men.

Descary is a nickel miner. She also happens to be a lesbian working in an industry that she describes as “closeted” and culturally homophobic; an industry where it wasn’t out of the ordinary for one of her male colleagues to suggest she come over to his house to “liven up” his sex life with his wife.

“You just hold your head high, do your job to the best of your ability and try not give them any more ammunition to use against you,” Descary told Corporate Knights.

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Why investors should start asking Canadian companies to disclose their political spending

Corporate political spending in Canada means more than donating to political parties.

When you consider the political spending habits of corporations in the United States, it’s tempting to become smug about the apparent cleanliness of the Canadian political system.

But a report released Thursday by the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) shows that investors, and the public more broadly, should be concerned about the political influence of Canadian companies.

Even small amounts of money can create reputational risks for companies, said Kevin Thomas, director of shareholder engagement for SHARE, an organization that specializes in responsible investment, research and education for institutional investors.

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Taking climate risks and opportunities that exist for supply chains seriously

CDP says companies need to lift the veil on their supply chains to tackle climate change.

Last month, I explored how little we know about carbon emissions.

When companies say they are measuring their emissions, they are usually talking about the carbon produced by their own operations and energy use. These are called Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.

But there is a significant chunk of carbon that isn't accounted for by these measurements. Scope 3 emissions include everything from transportation, emissions created in the supply chain, and the use of products in the consumer’s home.

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Why happiness is an HR issue

Worker happiness isn’t the only driver of workplace turnover, but research shows it can affect company productivity.

The employer-employee rela­tionship is one of modern day’s most im­portant relationships. When the match is good, the result for the employee is higher personal fulfillment, creativity, and pro­ductivity, which ultimately benefit the em­ployer. When relations go sour, the stress on an employee can be crushing and the impact on workplace morale can spread.

So critical is this relationship that mo­bile apps, developed by companies such as and Plasticity, are using sophisti­cated personality tests and surveys to help boost workplace happiness, whether that means finding the perfect match between jobseekers and employers or helping com­panies better engage and motivate work­ers. Employers are also increasingly recog­nizing the importance of strong corporate social responsibility programs as a way to attract and retain top talent.

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