Canadian Retailer - Fall 2011 - (Page 30)

| HR TECHNOLOGY RESPONSIBILITY CORPORATE SOCIAL making a difference IN PEOPLE’S LIVES By Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco CANADIAN RETAILERS T he topic of Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been generating lots of press in recent times and is generally seen by most retailers and members of the communities that they serve as something to embrace. But there is another perspective to the CSR story that tends to receive little attention. Call it corporate social caring, if you will. Caring—rather than a sense of responsibility--shines through in particular with some of the corporate community initiatives being rolled out today. That’s because many retailers, and the companies that manufacture the products they sell, have CSR initiatives in place that go well beyond crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s of responsibility. Many retailers are constantly looking for ways to reach out to help those in need, to make a real difference in people’s lives—specifically in the lives of people who live and work in their neighbourhoods. John Stanton, President and Founder of Running Room Inc., a successful retailer of sporting goods, apparel and footwear with 111 stores in Canada and the US, actually founded his business in 1984 with the idea of helping people. “In my mid 30s I was a couch potato and a smoker and a high-driven food executive,” says Stanton. He took up running, quit smoking and got in shape. “And that’s why I started the Running Room. There are lots of places where you can buy sneakers, but I wanted to create a resource centre for people to go to.” Very early on, Running Room began to sponsor running events as a way of giving back. “Terry Fox really initiated the fundraising through running. But at the same time we entered the market, there were still a lot of runs that were being done as profit centres for sporting good stores. And we said, no, these runs should be a three-way win. The community should win, the business should win and the customers should win too,” he says. As well as numerous free health-andfitness community events throughout the year, the company sponsors more than 650 runs annually in Canada and was the founding sponsor of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. “We also have a program for breast-cancer survivors,” says Stanton. “It’s a free training program to help them get ready to do the Run for the Cure and it’s only for survivors because they told us that unless you’re a survivor, you don’t really get it. And, they needed the dialogue with other survivors and the support and hope only other survivors can give them.” In fact, retailers often seem to get ideas for ways to help their communities by listening to their customers and employees. “We do have CSR programs, but we think of it more as community support programs,” says David Lui, Director, Marketing Services for The North West Company, a leading retailer to underserved rural communities. Many of North West’s stores are in remote aboriginal communities in northern Canada, where there is high unemployment and few opportunities. The company provides jobs and careers to the people there, and is often the only source of food and supplies. “We’re in 134 different communities in the north, so as you 30 | canadian retailer | fall 2011 |

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Canadian Retailer - Fall 2011


Canadian Retailer - Fall 2011