.Bruce Williams is CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce
What does it mean to do good business?
Saying “business is good” has traditionally meant an operation is profitable and the outlook for remaining so is positive. But good business also speaks to the powerful force for positivity businesses have on our communities. They drive innovation, create jobs and set the pace needed to keep up in a competitive world.
For the most successful organizations, doing good business means operating in an ethical way that doesn’t shy away from social and environmental responsibilities.
Quite honestly, I’m convinced that all businesses can benefit from including social and environmental outcomes as key measures of their bottom line. The reality of our times is that climate action leadership is critical to our health and safety. Weather events that had been labelled as once in a generation or 100-year occurrences now happen regularly. Heat domes and atmospheric rivers threaten to disrupt supply chains and overwhelm infrastructure we rely on daily.
Many businesses also have room to improve how their organization reflects our social reality.
Our social reality also can be better reflected in our organizations, especially in governance. Our community consists of people who bring many different experiences and cultures that enrich the values we all share. The multitude of perspectives offers context needed to make sense of complex situations. We are especially lucky to have Indigenous knowledge that, if we listen, can teach us about how precious life is in our region and what we can do to support a sustainable landscape for our kids.
We won’t get this if we wear blinders and insist our way of knowing is the best or only way.
In some ways, we can compare it to what we’ve learned about economic resiliency. There was a time when courting single industries was considered the key to ensuring economic prosperity. How many Canadian towns doubled down on a big resource company or major manufacturer in order to preserve jobs? In Greater Victoria, we’ve been a government and navy town for most of our official existence and our robust public sector is arguably the foundation of our economy. In some ways it’s a blessing as government jobs are less sensitive to the ebbs and flows of economic cycles. But can you imagine what life would be like without our tourism, industrial and tech sectors?
The work done over the decades to diversify and promote our destination now provides residents and visitors with world-class attractions, accommodation and experiences. Those attributes helped attract top talent in the tech sector and, in turn, those workers with advanced skills are helping rejuvenate traditional industries such as the marine sector. We welcome this month’s news that the province is heeding calls from business groups such as The Chamber to recognize certifications and skills people bring with them when they come to BC. Employers have jobs that need to be filled to help our economy reach its potential. All of these parts add up to a sum that now provides future generations with an exceptional array of opportunities.
Diversification and diversity give us strength. The evidence is undeniable. The more options, the more opportunities. The more perspectives, the better our context for making good decisions.
At the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, we believe in diversity, equity and inclusion and our efforts are being recognized. Earlier this month, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce honoured us with an Inclusive Growth Award. I was also personally honoured with the Chamber of Commerce Executives of Canada as Executive of the Year. Both awards are feathers in our cap for our remarkable board of directors, our staff and all of our members.
But, most of all, it reflects our community.
I encourage all organizations to learn more about initiatives such as the 50/30 challenge that empower you to make positive changes and help you do good business.
This column originally appeared in the October edition of the Business Examiner.