Awarding Corporate Excellence: A New Canadian Award Has Arrived
By: Meirav Even-Har, Toronto
Fall in Toronto is also known as conference season. Once Labour Day weekend ends, our convention centres fill up with a series of crowds that gather for a purpose. This year, corporate sustainability is the subject of three conferences: Sustainability Applied by The Bloom Centre for Sustainability (BLOOM), Green Business Forum by Toronto Greenhouse, and Summit on Corporate Social Responsibility by Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR). Aside from sharing ideas and networking, industry is also gathering to celebrate exemplary achievements. Green Living Enterprises will be presenting its Excellence in Corporate Sustainability (ECR) Awards for the second year, and also, a new award. The BLOOM Sustainability Leadership Award is making its début at the Sustainability Applied Gala, in October.
The BLOOM Sustainability Leadership Award was created to recognize companies that integrate sustainability holistically through strategy, actions and outcomes. While the ranking and recognition "space" is robust, a new award that aims to inspire a holistic approach to sustainability seems like a welcome addition.
About the BLOOM Sustainability Leadership Award
According to BLOOM's Sustainability and Communications Manager, Warren Cathro, the differentiators for the award include: having a comprehensive evaluation of leadership, and assessing for real value creation for both the business/organization, as well as its stakeholders. In a June press release, Michael Fagan, Senior Vice President of BLOOM, explained why the award is critical: "Integrating sustainability into business strategy, operations, culture and the value chain of an organization is a major accomplishment. But doing so in a way that creates tangible long-term value for both the organization and its stakeholders is trailblazing." 
A Brief Overview...
Here's a quick scan of the application questions:
The Sustainability Strategy - inquires about the drivers for a company's transition to sustainability. That includes how sustainability is linked with business objectives, goals, targets, and stakeholder engagement.
The Sustainability Action Plan - asks for an overview of "actionable economic, environmental and societal components and their priority and relationships." For example, the role of stakeholder and method(s) of engagement, such as consultation, and reporting.
The Integrated Business Case - in describing the business case, applicants are asked to write about value creation, such as competitive advantage, incorporating sustainability into the company's financial plans, as well as short and long-term positive impacts to the value chain.
Measuring Sustainability Performance Impacts - This segment of the application is focused on defining and integrating key performance and impact metrics into management. Specifically, how those metrics fit into a "holistic sustainability strategy to create and sustain business value."
Internal Management - looks at the way in which business integrates sustainability within the company, through various roles and responsibilities. From the CEO and C-suite throughout various management levels and staff at large.
External Engagement - this final question is about stakeholder collaboration. "How mutual sustainability challenges are solved while ensuring that those relevant impacted stakeholders obtain value from these efforts."
Why Awards Matter....
While there is time and effort required applying for most, if not all business awards, the investment is well worth it. The process provides an opportunity to gather and articulate good work that may not be recognized internally. For those who make the finalist or earn an award there are clear benefits for corporate reputation and employee pride. The more applicants there are, the greater the competition-which "raises the bar" for excellence. So for this conference season, here's a call out to Canada's best to participate: there's an award in it for those who try.
Want to learn more about the BLOOM Sustainability Leadership Award? Visit: http://www.bloomcentre.com/award.html Application deadline is July 27th.
 Bloom Centre for Sustainability: Press release, June 2012. http://www.bloomcentre.com/PR/BLOOM-PR-Award-062012.pdf