Top 50 Socially Responsible Companies 2013

Top 50 Socially Responsible Companies 2013

For the fifth year in a row, Maclean’s has partnered with Sustainalytics, a global leader in sustainability analysis, to select 50 leaders in corporate social responsibility–companies who know that doing good is just good business. Canada’s Top 50 Socially Responsible Companies were selected on the basis of their performance across a broad range of environmental, social, and governance indicators and rank at the top of their industry groups.


For these companies, corporate social responsibility is a key part of the way they do business



Banks continue to face scrutiny for their lending and investment activities, including those related to environmentally sensitive projects. Some banks have effectively used their market power to back high-impact sustainable projects such as renewable energy. Credit unions and co-operatives are increasingly influential, due not only to their prudent lending practices but also their development of local communities.

Bank of Montreal

  • BMO’s board diversity policy ensures that women represent at least a third of the bank’s independent board of directors.
  • Equity and debt financing to the renewable energy sector amounted to $3.6 billion in fiscal 2012, one of the highest among Canadian banks for that year.
  • BMO funds a nationwide financial literacy program that aims to educate 45,000 students on personal finance over three years.

The Co-Operators Group Ltd.

  • Active participant in the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative and the first North American signatory to the UN Principles for Sustainable Insurance.
  • Offers sustainable insurance products, including its “EnviroGuard” endorsement and LEED home coverage, which provides either additional coverage or discounts for environmentally responsible home owners.
  • Having reduced greenhouse-gas emissions by 15 per cent since 2007, the group has set an aggressive target of zero net emissions, across its facilities and in its business travel, by 2020.

Desjardins Group

  • Desjardins General Insurance offers a 20 per cent “green savings” premium for electric cars, in addition to 10 per cent savings on fuel-efficient cars and 15 per cent on hybrid vehicles.
  • A Canadian leader in micro-financing, supporting 19,600 micro-entrepreneurs, over eight years, in small-business ventures.
  • Helps newcomers to Canada integrate in Quebec’s job market by providing loans for certificates or training for workers previously trained abroad.

Royal Bank of Canada

  • As part of its enhanced sourcing policy, RBC has made a public commitment to work with suppliers to address conflict minerals in its supply chain.
  • Underwrote Canada’s first investment-grade solar bond, issued in 2012. The $172-million bond supports two solar farms in Ontario with a combined production capacity of 40 megawatts that will feed into the Ontario power grid.

TD Bank Group

  • TD’s new responsible procurement policy states that the company will endeavour to source products and services that protect human rights, ethics, diversity/inclusion and the environment.
  • Since 2012, “TD Forests” has protected 487 hectares of critical forest habitat across North America as part of its commitment to protect more than two football fields per day of North American forest habitat over the next five years.

Vancity (Vancouver City Savings Credit Union)

  • Pioneered responsible investing by launching Canada’s first ethical fund in 1986 and by integrating environmental and social issues into investment strategy.
  • Adopted a “living wage policy” whereby 100 per cent of eligible Vancity employees are paid at least $19.14 per hour (salary and benefits), well above B.C.’s minimum wage of $10.25.
  • Approved $386 million in community-impact loans in 2012—loans to organizations that demonstrate positive social, environmental, or cultural impact—representing around one-third of all approved loans to organizations.



Energy and utility companies are major emitters of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants that contribute to climate change, acid rain and smog. As these companies expand their operations to higher-risk and remote areas, health and safety issues, bribery and corruption, and community relations present new and urgent challenges. Recent industry collaborations have allowed companies to share best practices, develop common evaluation methods and accelerate significant change.

Cenovus Energy

  • At its Foster Creek and Christina Lake operations, the company maintains one of the lowest and most efficient “steam-to-oil” ratios—the amount of steam required to produce one barrel of oil—thus reducing overall energy use.
  • At its oil-sands operations, fresh water from underground aquifers constitutes less than five per cent of water used. The remainder is salt water that can’t be used for agriculture or drinking.

Suncor Energy Inc.

  • A founding member of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, consisting of 14 companies legally bound to share solutions that mitigate the environmental impact of oil-sands production. This collaborative effort focuses on tailings, water, land use and emissions.
  • Partnered with the Walrus Foundation to host a series of conversations on energy use among Canadians. The forums help to foster an ongoing conversation about local, national and international energy use and production.

Talisman Energy Inc.

  • Demonstrates strong transparency by reporting annually on its environmental- and safety-performance targets and progress. In 2011, the company surpassed its safety goal, reducing its lost-time injury-frequency rate by 45 per cent. In 2012, the company’s goal was to reduce this rate by a further 15 per cent.
  • Established “shale operating principles” to ensure its hydraulic fracturing activities are conducted in a safe, environmentally responsible manner that is beneficial to local communities.

TransAlta Corp.

  • As part of TransAlta’s commitment to reclaim land to a state that is equivalent or better than it was before mining activities, the company has planted 1.5 million trees at its former Centralia Mine.
  • As Canada’s largest wind power operator, TransAlta has decreased its percentage of energy derived from coal by 13 per cent in the past decade, and renewable energy now accounts for nearly 25 per cent of its generating capacity.



In response to consumer and regulatory pressure, food and beverage companies are focusing on innovation and education to launch healthier and more sustainable foods. As demand increases across new markets, companies must work closely with suppliers to ensure safe working conditions and product quality. Natural resource shortages, climate change and waste management remain critical issues.


  • For one-third of its global managers, Danone has linked year-end bonuses to managers’ progress in reducing the carbon footprint of departments.
  • “Danone.Communities,” a mutual fund, funds small, socially minded businesses in developing countries to foster entrepreneurship and empower local people with a steady source of income.

Kellogg Company

  • As part of its Breakfasts for Better Days™ Hunger Relief Initiative, Kellogg has pledged to provide more than half a billion breakfasts globally by the end of 2016.
  • In its 2012 and 2013 human-rights campaign, it was recognized as a “best place to work for LGBT equality.”

Molson Coors Brewing Company

  • The first major brewer in Canada to convert its brewing by-products, such as spent yeast and waste beer, into fuel-grade ethanol.
  • Molson aluminum cans are made with a minimum 67 per cent recycled content (up from 42 per cent in 2007) while kegs are refilled more than 200 times over their 25-year lifespan.

PepsiCo, Inc

  • In 2012, PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America division’s fleet of all-electric trucks surpassed one million miles driven, eliminating the need for approximately 200,000 gallons of diesel fuel.
  • “One Simple Thing” program gives employees the option to add a work-life balance goal, such as flexible working arrangements, to performance appraisals.

Starbucks Corporation

  • Since implementing its supplier social responsibility standards in 2006, Starbucks has engaged in more than 500 factory assessments and continues to work with more than 70 factories on improving their social and environmental standards.
  • As part of its 2015 global-responsibility goals, Starbucks aims to volunteer one million community service hours globally.
  • Starbucks has achieved LEED certification for 116 stores in 12 countries, with 69 per cent of company-owned stores built to achieve certification in 2012.

Tim Hortons Inc.

  • As part of its green building design, the company requires its Canadian millwork suppliers to use only wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council in Canadian restaurants.
  • By expanding recycling and waste-diversion programs at its distribution centres, it is currently diverting 80 per cent of its waste from landfill.
  • Aims to have 17,000 economically disadvantaged children participate in Tim Horton Children’s Foundation camps and programs by the end of 2015.



Many industrial companies are involved in intensive manufacturing processes where employee health and safety is paramount. Additionally, the use of chemical coatings, heavy metals and volatile organic compounds results in significant greenhouse-gas emissions and hazardous waste generation. Leading companies are integrating sustainable practices into early design decisions and product innovations.

3M Co.

  • Since 1990, 3M has reduced its volatile organic air emissions by 95 per cent through the development of solvent-free technologies, pollution-prevention programs and the use of pollution-control equipment.
  • 3M’s corporate operating committee, comprised of the CEO and his direct reports, is directly responsible for setting, approving and directing the company’s sustainability strategy.

Bombardier: The transporation giant’s award-winning TrackSafe Technology helps keep workers safe
Bombardier, Inc.

  • Won an international innovation award for its “TrackSafe Technology,” which increases the safety and productivity of railway track workers.
  • Encourages employees to submit energy-efficiency and emission-reduction project ideas to its Green Fund. The company’s transportation division plans to launch approximately 400 Green Fund projects in an effort to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020.

General Electric Company

  • In 2013, introduced its “GE 2.5-120” wind turbine prototype, reportedly the world’s most efficient wind turbine. The turbine uses industrial Internet to manage the variability of wind, providing smooth predictable power.
  • Donated $4 million to the Robin Hood Foundation for hurricane Sandy relief efforts and a further $1.1 million to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and United Way of America to support related efforts.

Philips Electronics

  • One of the few companies to feature its social and environmental performance alongside its financial performance in reports.
  • Worked with more than 300 suppliers in 2012 to investigate the presence of conflict minerals in its products, encouraging their participation in the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition’s Conflict Free Smelter program.
  • In 2012, sales from Green Products rose to 45 per cent, up from 39 per cent in 2011—on track to reach the company’s new target of 50 per cent in 2015.



As one of the most carbon-intensive industries, mining and materials companies face considerable exposure to a broad scope of environmental issues, including emissions, waste, biodiversity and land protection. In particular, companies engaged in gold mining have to ensure the safe handling, storing and disposal of cyanide, widely used in the industry to separate gold from the ore. These companies must also address employee and contractor health and safety, and community relations. If poorly managed, these issues can result in significant reputational and financial impacts.

Cascades Inc.

  • The expansion of its Lachute tissue paper plant received LEED Gold certification, making it the first plant to obtain LEED-NC certification (New Construction) in the paper industry in Canada.
  • Environmentally friendly products include 100 per cent recycled paper towel and tissue and biodegradable food containers.
  • Through its profit-sharing plan, all employees are eligible to receive quarterly bonuses and an annual bonus based on Cascade’s profits.


  • Implemented a substantial environmental program to manage its tailings. The program is aligned with the Mining Association of Canada’s Guide to the Management of Tailings Facilities, considered an industry best practice.
  • Using the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s biodiversity mapping and assessment tool to develop a company-wide biodiversity management program.

Potash Corp.: The mining company cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 13 per cent between 2007 and 2012
Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. (PotashCorp)

  • One of the few mining companies to have adopted the “say on pay” approach, which allows shareholders to submit a non-binding vote on executive compensation.
  • Implemented several projects to conserve water and, in 2012, 90 per cent of the fresh water used for operations was recycled.
  • The company exceeded its target to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions per tonne of product produced by 10 per cent between 2007 and 2012, achieving a 13 per cent reduction during that period.


  • As part of its strong consultation mechanisms, business units are required to provide regularly updated community-relations plans and engage specifically with women and other vulnerable community groups.
  • Partnering with international organizations and NGOs to reduce child mortality and illnesses due to zinc deficiency, which contributes to the death of nearly 450,000 children under five years of age each year.



When it comes to employee and contractor rights, retailers continue to attract concern from a variety of stakeholders. Additionally, greenhouse-gas emissions from retail facilities, transportation and logistics and waste management are key environmental challenges. Effective management of these issues directly contributes to a retailer’s reputation, which is of particular importance in a consumer-driven industry.

Best Buy Co. Inc.

  • As a member of the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition, the company works with industry peers to monitor and assess the human-rights performance of its high-risk suppliers.
  • Engages employees on its sustainability efforts by distributing “sustainability scorecards” to stores, so employees can determine how their sustainability efforts drive business success. The scorecard tracks employees’ impact in community relations, consumer-electronics recycling and retail-energy performance.

Loblaw Companies Limited

  • Loblaw brand Scholarship Programme will grant 200 educational scholarships in 2013 to its employees, their family members and Loblaw’s customers.
  • Set a 2013 target to source 100 per cent of its seafood from sustainable sources. Aims to obtain 100 per cent of its pork entirely from Canada.

Rona Inc

  • Gives preference to forest product suppliers who develop economic links with indigenous communities and who demonstrate responsible management or protection of areas of traditional importance.
  • Works with the International Life Cycle Chair, a research unit of Polytechnique Montréal, to assess environmental performance over a product’s entire lifetime, from extraction of primary resources to end-of-life management, including manufacturing, packaging and disposal.

Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd.

  • Has a six-member social-responsibility board committee in place, accountable for balancing the company’s environmental and social performance with economic growth.
  • Reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from its fleet by replacing trucks with more efficient models, increasing the use of long-combination vehicles and converting from road transportation to rail for certain routes.



Given the industry’s rapid consumption cycles and continuous pressure to innovate, technology companies are exposed to significant supply-chain risks, including worker safety and human-rights concerns, along with serious environmental impacts. Leading companies involve their suppliers throughout the value chain to minimize negative impacts over the course of a product’s lifecycle.

Accenture plc

  • As a member of the United Nations Global Compact, the company published its fourth progress report in 2013, demonstrating its achievement against goals related to human rights, labour standards, anti-corruption and environmental principles.
  • Surveys all new suppliers on whether they have undertaken environmental assessments and set targets for reducing their environmental impact.

Cisco Systems Inc.

  • Worked closely throughout its supply chain to see 100 per cent of its contract manufacturers, 80 per cent of its component suppliers and more than 90 per cent of its global transportation partners report to the Carbon Disclosure Project.
  • Partners with governments and NGOs to set up “community knowledge centres” across sub-Saharan Africa, offering Internet connectivity, technology courses, language skills and online information portals.
  • 96 per cent of all new products include “design-for-environment” principles early in the design phase.

Dell Inc.

  • Reduced its packaging while increasing the amount of recycled, recyclable and renewable content. As a result, Dell has eliminated more than 20 million pounds of packaging material since 2008.
  • Conducts regular supplier audits to ensure that human rights, health and safety and other criteria are respected by its suppliers.
  • Replaced all Dell laptop displays with LED illumination, eliminating the use of mercury in all new laptops manufactured.

Intel Corp.

  • Tripled its goal to reduce absolute greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 per cent from 2007 to 2012, achieving a 60 per cent reduction.
  • Through its “World Ahead 1Mx15 Health Program,” Intel aims to provide technical training to one million health care workers in developing countries by the end of 2015.

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM)

  • Created the “WaterWatchers” app for mobile devices in South Africa to report water leaks, faulty water pipes and conditions of water canals. The data will be used to identify challenges to the country’s water distribution systems.
  • To provide accessible energy data and to encourage greater use of electric vehicles, IBM is partnering with automotive and utility companies to develop robust communication systems between electric vehicles and the power grid.

SAP Canada Inc.

  • At the end of 2012, roughly 60 per cent of SAP’s total electricity consumption came from renewable sources, up from 47 per cent in 2011.
  • SAP’s online network and mobile app, Charitable Transformation (ChariTra) connects volunteers with organizations that meet volunteers’ specific time and skill requirements.



Similar to the technology industry, complex supply-chain risks present challenges, particularly the sourcing of conflict minerals. Water use, emissions and waste generation account for much of the industry’s environmental footprint.

BCE Inc.

  • BCE’s five-year, $50-million mental health initiative aims to enhance awareness, understanding and treatment of mental illness and promote access to care and research across Canada.
  • BCE’s new Quebec data centre, built according to LEED Gold standards, is ranked among the top two per cent of the most energy-efficient data centres in North America.

Nokia Corp.

  • “Nokia Life” is a text-based information service designed for users in emerging markets, offering actionable advice and education on topics such as health care, local markets and agriculture, in an effort to facilitate learning and improve quality of life.
  • Strong waste-reduction goals are in place, ensuring that all new products are free of toxic materials such as bromine and chlorine. Five out of seven Nokia factories have diverted 100 per cent of waste from landfills or are within one per cent of this target.

Panasonic: The tech company is launching an urban development that is billed as a ‘sustainable smart town’
Panasonic Corporation

  • New Econavi home appliances and electronics, introduced in Japan and Asia, feature intelligent sensors that collect data to automatically optimize energy and water consumption based on customers’ usage and lifestyle.
  • Scheduled to launch in 2014, Panasonic is implementing a Japanese urban development concept called Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town, which will deploy innovative urban services and energy systems based on Panasonic’s Eco Ideas for green lifestyles.

Sony Corporation

  • The CSR Forum provides headquarters employees an opportunity to learn about corporate social responsibility through free lectures, film screenings and other activities.
  • Sony Canada conducts independent audits of recyclers and downstream waste-processing firms to ensure that waste is managed with minimal impacts on worker health and safety and the environment.

Telus Corp.

  • Telus employees have completed more than 4,500 training courses with environmental and safety themes such as responding to spills and releases, safety reporting and transportation and disposal of waste.
  • Launched, an online hub to provide customers with improved access to medical professionals, educational information and personal health data.



Recent high-profile controversies surrounding industry working conditions have put labour concerns back in the spotlight. Throughout the supply chain, poor labour conditions threaten basic human rights and present reputational risks to consumer-sensitive companies. Moreover, environmental impacts persist, including high levels of water consumption and waste-water discharge. Increasingly, companies are participating in multi-stakeholder initiatives to address environmental and social risks associated with manufacturing and consumption.

Adidas: The footwear maker has urged the U.S. Congress to take immediate action on climate change

  • One of 33 global brands to send a “climate declaration” to the U.S. Congress, urging immediate action on climate change.
  • As part of its 2012 London Olympic Games sponsorship, volunteers wore Adidas jackets and shirts made from 100 per cent recycled materials, and athletic shoes containing more than 50 per cent recycled content, for a total of 1.5 million Adidas products containing sustainable materials.

Gildan Activewear

  • Gildan requires its suppliers to sign a statement ensuring they do not procure cotton originating from Uzbekistan, where child and forced labour are routinely used.
  • When conducting acquisitions in emerging markets, Gildan performs an extensive due-diligence process that includes an assessment of social and environmental risks.

Hennes & Mauritz AB

  • New Conscious Exclusive collection of evening wear features gowns and suits made from 100 per cent recycled polyester and organic cotton.
  • Through its Bangladesh development plan, H&M supports long-term social development by strengthening workers’ influence, increasing skill levels and wages, and creating stability in the labour market.

Nike Inc.

  • One of the few manufacturers to have an executive-level committee in place, chaired by the CEO, charged with driving sustainable innovation.
  • Nike’s materials sustainability index assigns scores to materials used in production based on sustainability factors such as the amount of water they require. Efficient materials and vendors stand a better chance of being selected as Nike suppliers.

Zara (Industria de Diseño Textil SA)

  • As part of its 2020 “commitment to zero discharge,” Zara will begin publicly disclosing discharges of hazardous chemicals. By the end of 2013, the company aims to have discharge data on 100 Asian suppliers available on a public online platform.
  • Signatory to the CEO Water Mandate, a United Nations initiative to support companies in the development, implementation and disclosure of their water-related strategies and solutions.

Gap Inc.

  • Dramatically decreased plastic packaging used to ship products, reducing the company’s overall waste by 57,000 tonnes annually.
  • Many of Gap’s social responsibility specialists grew up in the regions where they work and are able to directly engage with workers and factory owners to assist them in meeting the company’s code of vendor conduct.



As a leading contributor to global emissions, the transportation industry is subject to increasingly stringent emission regulations. Simultaneously, consumers face persistently high fuel costs. These trends are driving some companies to make improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency and pursue innovative design. Social concerns such as employee safety and union relations continue to be highly relevant.

BMW: Each year the automaker holds a competition that awards suppliers for thinking sustainably

  • BMW’s i3 and i8 electric cars integrate lightweight carbon fibre to reduce weight and overall fuel requirements. Its new Washington state carbon-fibre plant was chosen primarily because of the availability of renewable energy to power production.
  • Holds an annual competition for its suppliers to introduce sustainability solutions. The best idea is awarded with the BMW Group Supplier Innovation Award in the category of sustainability.

Canadian National Railway Co.

  • Integrating hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles into its fleet, which are up to 20 per cent more fuel-efficient, producing 40 per cent fewer nitrogen oxides.
  • Provides customers with web-based carbon emissions and carbon credit calculators to estimate the environmental impact of their rail shipments.

Ford Motor Company

  • Set a goal to reduce its facility-based CO2 emissions by 30 per cent by 2025 compared to a 2010 baseline.
  • Developed and launched the first inflatable safety belt, designed to dramatically reduce the risk of injuries to rear-seat occupants, especially children.

United Parcel Services Inc.

  • Reduced aircraft emissions by lowering flight speeds and implementing computer-optimized flight plans, computer-managed aircraft taxi times and fuel-efficient towing tugs.
  • Offers an externally verified carbon neutral shipping program, allowing customers to purchase offsets at affordable prices.
  • Granted $2.2 million to environmental organizations to support forest protection and the planting of one million trees in 2012 and 2013.


  • Launched the XL1, a concept car that burns just one litre of fuel to travel 100 km, using a combination electric-fuel engine to significantly reduce fuel consumption.
  • Volkswagen’s LEED Platinum-certified plant in Tennessee includes a 26-hectare solar park to power the plant, the largest solar park at a U.S. auto factory.