"Building Strong Communities Through Leadership"
Good afternoon everyone – it’s great to be in London, particularly to talk about a subject that I feel so strongly about.
I want to start by congratulating all of you on the amazing hometown victory the Knights achieved a couple of weeks ago!
I congratulate you, as well, on the 150th anniversary of your city. TD is also celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.
Canada Post honoured TD with a special stamp, and I note that they honoured London with a commemorative envelope.
TD's got the stamp. London has the envelope. So I guess you could say our relationship with London is "signed, sealed and delivered.”
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that everyone in this room cares about their community.
I think that’s a safe thing to say at the Annual General Meeting of the United Way – an organization that epitomizes the kind of engagement and leadership every community needs in order to succeed.
I’ve been invited to say a few words about the role of Corporate Social Responsibility - or CSR as it is often called – in building better communities.
I want to start by saying, CSR is a handy acronym because it can stand for CorporateSocial Responsibility – where companies are accountable to the community, or CommunitySocial Responsibility – where members of the community, including companies, take responsibility for and are accountable to the community . which I think is very relevant in today’s world.
If, like me and the Bank I work for, and of course, the United Way of London, you consider yourself to be a part of the community, then it follows that CSR or Community Social Responsibility is everyone’s responsibility.
There is no single hero to look after it all there is only us– the community itself.
On its own, City government cannot make sure the community thrives. On its own, the TD Bankcannot keep the community prosperous and vital. On its own, the University of Western Ontario cannot ensure we succeed as a community. And, with all due respect, neither can the United Way do it on its own!.
However, when all of us get behind the community .a lot can happen – provided we all contribute. Most companies these days – like TD – have made a social contract with the community. Those contracts vary, but they all pretty much say the same thing:
- We will be a good employer
- We will provide outstanding customer service
- We will embrace diversity
- We will contribute, through donations and sponsorships, to the community
- We will be environmentally responsible
- We will govern ourselves with integrity
But these tenets aren’t as meaningful if a company sees itself as apart or detached from the community.
The promises we make to our community take on a whole new level when we see ourselves as part of the community. In other words .. when we recognize that we have something to lose if we don’t live up to our end of the bargain.
So what do we lose if we don’t live up to our promises?
- We lose the faith and trust of our employees and our customers.
- We lose business and the opportunity to do more business.
- We lose out on the chance to contribute to the prosperity of our community and to be valued by our community.
- We lose out on the opportunity to shape the direction of our community in positive ways.
We asked our employees – your neighbours – what they care about. Then we reworked our giving strategy to prioritize the things that really matter, not just to TD, but to TD employees, who are the key to our success.
Among other things, our employees told us strong communities and the health, welfare and future of our children are important to them.
So we formed the three pillars of our community giving, focusing on
- Children’s health;
- Children’s education; and
- The environment.
We invested and continue to invest in programs we think will have a real impact on the lives of Canadian children, including
- Scholarship programs,
- Literacy initiatives, and
- The Canadian Children’s Miracle network which supports children’s hospitals across the country.
TD Friends of the Environment now supports grassroots environmental projects in hundreds of communities across the country. A big part of the initiative is to teach children about the environment so they can have a better tomorrow.
We’re still handing out cheques .. but now they’re just conversation starters.
I’ve lived in London and I’ll admit right now that I’m a bit more partial to this community than I am to most others.
I love this town because it exemplifies “community spirit in action.”
Leaders and constituents from all parts of this city recognized long ago that the lone hero was not going to ride in on his horse and “save the town.”
They recognized that for a community to succeed and thrive, it would have to galvanize citizens from all areas – government, corporate, non-profit, academic, and the arts.
London set a goal -- it wanted to be one of the top cities in the country .. The result?
- A revitalized downtown area.
- A renewed commitment to the arts through such initiatives as “Creative City,” the Public Library and the John Labatt Centre.
- Extensive improvements to London’s university and college campuses.
- And .the growth of a thriving knowledge-intensive industry base, including a biotech industry that’s bringing in talent and renown from around the world.
It makes me very proud that the Company I work for takes a strong interest in what goes on here. It’s not surprising considering that we don’t just work here, we live here.
TD employees 3700 in the London area. We have 22 Branches and 7 Call Centres we have a vested interest in what goes on.
We don’t just want to write some cheques, we want to be a part of the conversation, a party to the real change that is taking place.
That’s why we contribute to the Robarts Research Institute. It’s why we support London’s schools and universities, its hospitals and museums. It’s the reason we contribute to United Way.
And, because we know that one of the keys to London’s continued success is in growing and nurturing future generations, we support
- Junior Achievement,
- The Boys and Girls Club of London,
- London’s Investing In Kids project, and
- A variety of national initiatives that impact this region, including our TD Canada TrustScholarship program and the TD Waterhouse Investing in Youth program.
Governments are putting more onus on towns and cities to fund change.
Major urban centres are drawing population and business away from many smaller communities.
And communities are facing huge pressure on limited resources to fund an ever growing list of needs, from investment in arts and culture, to infrastructure, to health care and emergency services to parks and schools.
Community leadership and responsibility at all levels have never been more important.
How can communities take responsibility for their own future?
One way is by encouraging leadership at every level.
A few months ago, I had the privilege of speaking at a ceremony recognizing the top high school principals in Canada.
The leadership qualities embodied in these top principals make the difference between schools that are successful and schools that are neglected.
Their ability to engage the community and motivate their teams set them, and their schools, apart. They use their influence in the community to make positive change for their students.
Community leaders can do this, whether it’s a CEO who wants to start a national conversation about the state of our cities, a celebrity who wants to increase awareness of a cause, or a civic leader with a great idea.
TD has launched a new Leadership Initiative to recognize and train the best and brightest leaders at every level of the Company.
We are driving our leadership principles throughout the organization, principles that include things like:
- Making an impact
- Building for the future
- Being transparent, and
- Demonstrating unwavering integrity.
Recognizing, nurturing and rewarding leaders is important. So is recognizing that we can allbe leaders
- Through programs at work or in the schools
- Through involvement with organizations like United Way,
- By getting involved in government or
- By leading a neighbourhood association, or
Leaders remind us of why we should care, create opportunities for us to get involved, and shine a light on the issues.
The London Free Press recently invited leading Londoners to write about London and its future.
Architects, writers and CEOs weighed in with their opinions about keeping London vital – everything from attracting and retaining young talent to encouraging population growth through immigration to nurturing the creative class.
This was an exchange of ideas on a high level.
This kind of dialogue on every level within a community – in our schools, at city hall, at public events, in the workplace– creates an environment that results in commitment and change.
In closing I’d like to say that I think corporate social responsibility ishelping to build better communities, especially when the whole community pulls together.
People are starting to realize that corporations that are caring and responsible fellow citizens can make a real and positive difference to their communities.
There is still much work to be done – but we all need to contribute and we all need to stand up and be counted as leaders in our community.
Thank you very much.