Look who’s on the purpose podium!

By Mary Ellen Schaafsma, Director, United Way Social Purpose Institute

Mar 29, 2022

Breaking news! The first-ever rating of social purpose companies was released today. Published by Corporate Knights (CK) and co-authored by United Way Social Purpose Institute (UW SPI) advisor, Coro Strandberg, you can see it here: The Social Purpose Transition Pathway: Helping Companies Move from “Say” to “Do” .

CK analyzed 34 companies headquartered or operating in Canada that had a social purpose—dedicated to creating a better world through their core business—and rated the degree to which they were governing and implementing it.

We are pleased and proud that three-quarters of the top performers—the ‘blue ribbon group’—have participated in our programs that help companies adopt and implement a social purpose as the reason they exist. As pointed out by CK, platinum recipients “were mostly companies that have undertaken social purpose training and were deeply committed to getting it right”. We applaud these social purpose cohort members for their excellence in purpose execution:

  • BC Lottery Corporation
  • Chandos
  • Coast Capital Savings
  • Hemlock Printers
  • LGM
  • Modo Co-op

One of the tools they used to reinvent themselves as social purpose companies is our Social Purpose Assessment. By following this tool, and the “Purpose Leadership Checklist” in the CK report, companies now have a playbook they can use to guide their own implementation.

Since we launched the UW SPI three years ago, we have seen substantial acceleration of the social purpose movement in Canada—from one or two articles per year in the business literature to two to five per week today. We expect this momentum for businesses adopting a social purpose as the reason they exist will be further accelerated by the Roadmap to the Purpose Economy—developed at the Propelling Purpose Summit we convened last fall. And we hope governments across Canada will be inspired to play their role in supporting social purpose businesses to start, transition, grow and thrive, via this report on Purpose Policy Options for Canadian Governments.

We were pleased to partner with Corporate Knights on this rating project. Their new rating has proven robust and is a great contribution to the research and the practice of social purpose. All the rated companies are on the right path and are serving as models for other companies who want to reach the podium. There is still much to learn—for us, for them, and for others not yet on this journey; the report shows us that while there has been much progress, there is still a long way to go. We commend all the business leaders and companies who have embarked on this journey with conviction and commitment, and we look forward to welcoming more into this new era of the Social Purpose Business.

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