News Releases

The Co-operators Outlines First Steps in "Sustainability Journey"

Oct 17, 2007
9:00am

    BURLINGTON, ON, Oct. 17 /CNW/ - Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of
The Co-operators outlined the initial stages of the group of companies'
"sustainability journey" as the keynote speaker at the Ontario Co-operative
Association's 7th Annual Co-op Conference and Gala in Burlington, Ontario
today.
    Speaking to a group representing co-operatives and credit unions from
across the province, Bardswick discussed how the principles of economic,
environmental and social sustainability align naturally with co-operative
values. Citing the sector's commitment to enhancing the quality of life in
their communities, she said co-ops and credit unions are well positioned to
address the opportunities and challenges in the years ahead as organizations
strive to adopt more sustainable practices. As one of Canada's largest
co-operatives, Bardswick was pleased to share The Co-operators experience as
it embarked upon its sustainability journey.
    "We make no claim to being a leader in sustainability at this point. But
we are sincere in our commitment to becoming a better, more sustainable
organization and we have begun the journey in earnest," she said. "My hope is
that by sharing the approach we've taken, the process we've followed in
preparation, that other organizations may draw some lessons and put some of
these ideas into practice in their own ways."
    Following a period of education and consultation with staff and
member-owners, The Co-operators board of directors approved a Sustainability
Strategy this summer and amended the organization's Vision and Values
statements to reflect its commitment to sustainability. Working with The
Natural Step, a non-profit organization that provides sustainability advisory
and training services, The Co-operators has created a department of
Sustainability to co-ordinate efforts across the group of companies. Among the
initiatives to be undertaken in 2008 are the measurement of the organization's
environmental footprint; the development of a Climate Change Strategy;
incorporating sustainability principles into insurance products; and
educational initiatives.
    "Measuring our environmental footprint is crucial. Without such baseline
data we could not genuinely understand our unique challenges as a group of
companies, and our progress would not be quantifiable," Bardswick explained.
"Staff and our co-operative member-owners are very much engaged in this
process and supportive of the direction we're taking. With their support we
will make real contributions as a co-operative, an employer and an insurer
toward a more sustainable society."
    Bardswick's keynote speech kicked off the annual conference and gala
which is held during Co-op and Credit Union Week, October 14-20. The day-long
conference entitled "Building Up, Moving Forward" includes workshops and
educational sessions for members of Ontario's co-operative sector.

    About The Co-operators:

    Based in Guelph, Ontario, The Co-operators is a group of Canadian
companies offering home, auto, life, group, commercial and farm insurance, as
well as investment products and property development. With assets of
$7 billion, The Co-operators is a co-operative owned by 37 Canadian
co-operatives, credit unions and like-minded organizations. It is well known
for its community involvement, and is listed among the 50 Best Employers in
Canada.

For further information: Leonard Sharman, The Co-operators,
1-877-795-7272, ext. 2707

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