Seeking Sustainability Loyalty: Debbie Baxter of LoyaltyOne Talks CSR (Part 1 of 3)

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Seeking Sustainability Loyalty: Debbie Baxter of LoyaltyOne Talks CSR (Part 1 of 3)

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Friday, May 25, 2012 - 8:00pm



LoyaltyOne is no stranger to accolades about its corporate responsibility programs. More often than not, it is mentioned as the company to learn from on employee engagement, community involvement and innovative ways to drive sustainable consumer behaviour. Awards include: Canada's Best Employer (2012), Canada's Greenest Employer (2011), and Canada's Most Admired Corporate Cultures (2011), to name a few recent ones. For Debbie Baxter, Chief Sustainability Officer at LoyaltyOne, it is positive reinforcement but by no means a signal to slow down. I spoke with Ms. Baxter to learn more about the company behind all those awards.

The Not So New CSR program
LoyaltyOne has had CSR as part of its "DNA" for about 20 years. Company founders originally built CSR into the values of the company, focusing on community and employee engagement. The environmental or sustainability component of CSR was introduced in late 2007 through staff-driven activities around the office. Participation in the Living Environmentally Aware Forum (LEAF) helped launch actions to reduce workplace environmental footprint, such as ending the use of Styrofoam cups.

"I joined LoyaltyOne in late 2008 to embed sustainability into the company's business processes," Baxter notes. Today, her task is to be the lightning rod that brings executive interest and ideas together with employees' desire to contribute. "It really helps that President and CEO Bryan Pearson is very passionate about sustainability," she says. Baxter adds that the company has plenty of staff that wants to participate in charitable events. "My job is to help channel the passion from both directions into focused programs and initiatives that align with LoyaltyOne's key areas of corporate responsibility." Many sustainability professionals would be envious. Engaged workforce is not always easy to come by.

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Meirav Even-Har is a Justmeans staff blogger. She reports on Canadian CSR issues. Meirav is an independent sustainability consultant and writer working in Toronto, Canada.