Best Workplaces 2011: Best Workplace for Volunteerism and Community Involvement
Best Workplace for Volunteerism and Community Involvement
It’s one thing to give back when times are good. It’s quite another to do it regardless of the economic fortunes of the day, and all the more so in a province as prone to booms and busts as Alberta. But while some organizations might treat fundraising campaigns, volunteer commitments and other forms of community-minded activity as mere icing on the corporate cake, Calgary’s FirstEnergy Capital regards them as an integral part of the basic mix.
Seventeen years ago, when the company’s business plan was being formulated by its founders, it was decided that 2.5 per cent of gross profits would be allocated to charity. They’ve never wavered. “We apply that to charities in good markets, bad markets, bear markets, bull markets; it doesn’t matter,” says CEO Jim Davidson. “We don’t change the viewpoint. It’s ingrained in our system and it’s become, as a result of that, part of our corporate culture and part of our DNA.”
In those 17 years, FirstEnergy has donated more than $8 million to 500-plus charities and community organizations. But the trickle-down effect of that commitment to charity – the DNA – has been even more profound. Over that same period, the company’s senior managers and staff have donated in excess of $24 million to a variety of personal causes and organizations. Here are just a few of the company’s champions of charity.
Jim Davidson, CEO
Davidson’s devotion to animals is, he says, a fairly recent and entirely unexpected development that all began with a certain flat-coated retriever. “I protested heavily against getting [it] with my wife for five years until she finally broke me down,” he says. “Two weeks after the dog entered my life, I was totally head-over-heels in love with it, and so I became more attuned to animals and the troubles that many of them have.”
Davidson also personally donated $2 million to the Edge School for Athletes, a Calgary private school that combines high-level athletic performance with a strong commitment to educational achievement. Davidson wanted to provide today’s young athletes with a place where athletic and intellectual growth could take place side by side, something that didn’t exist when he was coming up through the system as a Junior A hockey player. “At that point in time, education was not promoted when you were on the fast track in sports. It was almost a hindrance, or viewed as a hindrance, and I obviously didn’t agree with that.”
Not one to rest on his laurels, Davidson is already hard at work in his role as chairman of the fundraising committee on another ambitious campaign, which see a $50-million “linear park” built around Calgary. “This is going to be a tough one,” he says, “but I think we’ll be successful longer-term. It’s going to take a while to get it done.”
J Trent Boehm, Managing Director, Institutional Sales
J William Lacey, Managing Director, Institutional Research
J Cody Kwong,Vice-President, Institutional Research
J Martin Molyneaux, Founding Member/Managing Director
J Michael Dunn, Research Analyst