At a recent gala in Vancouver, the Canadian Council for the Aboriginal Business (CCAB) celebrated the Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) program, the first and only corporate responsibility assurance program in the world with an emphasis on Aboriginal relations. In 2014, the companies that have joined the PAR program has risen to 40. Companies joining PAR are given the option to commence at the committed level before certification.
Beginning in 2002, PAR has evolved into a online management and reporting program helping companies assess, plan, and develop Aboriginal goals and a certification program that confirms performance at the bronze, silver,or gold levels. Barry Telford, the new president of Sodexo Canada says Sodexo is proud of their PAR Gold certification status. “It is really a very important achievement for Sodexco as the PAR’s criteria goes hand-in-hand with Sodexo’s Quality of Life commitment to support community development and to improve the well-being as well as the performance of our partners,” Telford said. “It is important that we continue to ensure that our projects contribute to the advancement of Aboriginal People and to the economic, social, and environmental development of Aboriginal communities. This is absolutely fundamental in our approach.”
Certified companies promote their achievement with a PAR logo that signals to community market places, that they are good business partners, and are committed to prosperity in Aboriginal communities. The designation is supported by an independent, third party verification of company reports on outcomes and initiatives in the four key areas that matter most to Aboriginal communities: employment, community investment, business development, and community engagement, and a juried review by Aboriginal business people. JP Gladu, president and CEO of CCAB says he sincerely appreciates all the support Sodexo has given to CCAB over the years in their programs and events, as well as Sodexo’s efforts in advancing best practices in PAR. “There is no doubt under the new leadership of Barry Telford, Sodexo will continue to raise the bar in building Aboriginal business in Canada,” Gladu said.
Quality of life is central to the performance and growth of individuals and organizations. Working from this perspective, Sodexo has redefined how to best serve their clients complex needs. Sodexo’s clients come from a wide spectrum, which include corporate, education, healthcare, remotes sites, senior living, and sports and leisure segments. For the past 40 years, Sodexo Canada has been recognized as a strategic partner for clients. Sodexo is a market leader in Canada in terms of revenue and consumers served and has been recognized as a top employer for the past three consecutive years.
The key figures for Sodexo Canada is that they have 10,000 employees, and 1 million consumers served daily. Telford says, “Building partnerships with Aboriginal organizations and communities is tremendously important to Sodexo Canada. Those relationships are critical to our growth strategy and ongoing success. As a result, we invest significant resources to building and managing those relationships, including investing in our Aboriginal employees to ensure they grow and prosper within Sodexo.”
Sodexo has developed Aboriginal support roles within the company as well as an Aboriginal Employee Resource Group (NAAC) that provides cultural awareness training at their remote sites. Telford talked about some of the upcoming PAR initiatives. “In my new role as President of Sodexo, although you may not consider it new, but I want to bring a tremendous amount of support to some of the new initiatives that we introduced recently to ensure that the intended potential is realized. This would include a partnership with OneXOne that supports selected Aboriginal communities through a breakfast program in Quebec. We also provide scholarship support through the Foundation for Advancement of Aboriginal Youth (FAAY), and we have just introduced a new scholarship at Bow Valley College in Calgary specific to Aboriginal Addictions. These are important initiatives for us that I believe will have some very positive impacts.”
At the Vancouver Gala, CCAB awarded Mary Simon the 2014 Award of Excellence in Aboriginal relations. As Canada’s first Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs, a lead negotiator for the creation of the Arctic Council, and former Canadian Ambassador to Denmark, Ms. Simon’s leadership is international in scope with northern interests at the heart of her extraordinary career. Telford says he’s impressed with the quality of what he sees in Canada’s Aboriginal business community. “At the last CCAB gala in Vancouver, I met some very strong and vibrant business leaders from a variety of Aboriginal communities. I was struck by their commitment and passion for what they were doing, as well as the plans they had for the future. Strong leadership can move businesses a long way. This may be another area where Sodexo can be of support as we continue to develop our relationship with selected Aboriginal businesses who become our suppliers. I strongly believe the future is very bright.”
JP Gladu shared his thoughts on the the current success of Aboriginal business.“The trajectory of Aboriginal business is substantial. Companies that are able to develop relationships with Aboriginal businesses and communities will see significant dividends for both the corporate sector and the communities they have partnered with.”
To find out more on current research on the state of Aboriginal business in Canada go to: https://www.ccab.com/research