Top Ten Benefits of Sustainable Wealth

Sustainable Wealth

Sustainable Wealth

Sustainable wealth is wealth that stays. People often ask me what are the biggest benefits to creating our own sustainable wealth. Here we go:

10. Confidence – It feels great to know that you have control over your financial decisions.

9. Celebration – when you wait and earn something rather than put it on credit, you will actually enjoy it more.

8. Self Esteem – people shop and buy things that marketing messages subtly tell you that you need to be loved or successful. Stop listening to the messages!

7. Discipline – it takes discipline to spend your money on your needs and responsibilities and this is a quality that you can develop and apply success in all areas of your life.

6.Control – you will not need to worry about a job layoff. You will have the money to sustain you and you can take the opportunity to plan a positive transition in your career.

5. Health – worrying about money causes health problems. No one likes to be sick.

4. Joy – you can live in the moment and enjoy people and experiences because you can afford it without guilt.

3.Share – it feels good to share what you have and spoil others.

2.Relax – when you have investments, they make money for you so you can relax more.

1.Love – relationships are better when two confident people commit to be partners. When you build sustainable wealth together, you are confident, relaxed, joyful and healthy. And you two can share and celebrate!


What do you think is a benefit of sustainable wealth?

Yours in Sustainability

Cara MacMillan MBA

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Loblaws – a good news SRI story

Loblaws introduced a fashionable but very affordable clothing line into its stores in 2006. It took off. The target market – suburban soccer moms – were able to pick up clothes for their whole families at rock bottom prices while also doing the weekly grocery shopping.

It was a huge success….

Yesterday as I rushed in to pick up my favourite responsibly sourced Cajun catfish for dinner, I overheard a teenage girl say to another, “Those clothes are made by slave labour.” The other answered, “No  they are made by hard working people in Bangladesh. We need to buy them to help improve their working conditions and their quality of life.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“In my ethics class. We were learning about the factory collapse in Bangladesh. Joe Fresh really worked to try to make a difference. I like that.” And with that, she walked toward the cash with an adorable skirt.Why am I writing today about Joe Fresh? Everyone knows what happened in Bangladesh.

I am writing because this is Socially Responsible Investment Success Story.

Demand a Change

Demand a Change

Social media asked consumers to stop buying unless the workers receive justice. It worked. This is an excellent example of how shareholder and consumer advocacy working together. Investors and consumers chose to support companies who engage with suppliers and teach how to raise their standards for working conditions.

Last year, I had the privilege of listening to Bob Chant, Senior Vice President Corporate Affairs and Communication at the Canadian Responsible Investment Conference in Toronto.  Bob candidly talked about what it was like to work at Loblaws through this challenge. First he said that personally and professionally, he was glad to work for Galen Weston. Weston’s leadership is based on his ethics and values, The leadership team knew that Loblaws would work with the Bangladesh suppliers to improve working conditions and the quality of life for their employees. Imagine how the Joe Fresh leadership felt. They are human and to see all that destruction and loss of life…. Remember these Canadian employees knew many of their suppliers. They heard the stories of their family members in Bangladesh. There were personal relationships and friendships.

None of us would want to work for a company that washed its hands of its responsibilities in the wake of disaster. Bob Cant spoke proudly that Loblaws did not walk away. Prior to the collapse, there had been had inspections of this factory. No one had seen the crack in the floor…”if only we had.” he said. And everyone in the room knew his grief was real.

Cant stated that immediately, Loblaws  began to offer financial and professional resources for their suppliers’ employees and their families. Five million was allocated. Almost $4 million was allocated to a long term trust fund for the injured workers and for the families of those who died.  Monies were also given to Save the Children Bangladesh and to Rehabilitation Centres. Three months salary was given to those who could not work until another factory was prepared. Rather than bail on the people, Loblaws committed to stay and to improve working conditions for the people of Bangladesh. This is very important because it saved the jobs and the livelihoods of many. Loblaws was the first signatory and Canadian member of  The Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Loblaws staffed a supply chain expert in Bangladesh to work with their 40 factory partners to develop their skills and resources in the areas of structural safety and process improvement.

Loblaws continues to work in partnership with people, the industry, government local, national and international, NGOs and the International Labour Organization to raise the bar on working conditions in Bangladesh and other developing countries.

So how did Socially Responsible Investors react?

They stayed the course with Loblaws. After the Rana Plaza collapse, the stock was trading around $33 CDN. Today, three years and a bit later, it is trading in the $72 range. Why did the SRI investment practitioners stay the course?

Loblaws took immediate action.

They went to Bangladesh and treated their suppliers employees as their own. They provided benefits for the injured (a trust fund similar to long term disability insurance and similar to a life insurance benefit). They developed the local economy by keeping the jobs in Bangladesh and developing skilled employees in structural and fire safety.

Sometimes when we discuss corporate social responsibility, we talk about the bad stories and forget to celebrate the good news. The Loblaws case study is good news. And the good news is being studied in business ethics classes so that consumers and investors can decide today and tomorrow if they want to support companies who want to make a difference. And interestingly, if someone had decided to invest and support these actions of corporate social responsibility, the investor would have almost doubled their investment in 27 months. That’s making big money and making a big difference!

What is your good news story?

yours in corporate social responsibility

Cara MacMillan

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5 Steps of Change

Change Happens

Change Happens

Sometimes we will be enjoying a phase of life and think that it is absolutely perfect. Sure there are little things that we would like to change but the time or moment is truly joyful.

I have been in one of those phases and suddenly we came upon some fast-moving water. The rocks bump and the water dumps on me and feelings are scattered.

It is normal.

There are five steps – some people call them stages in dealing with change . Journeying through change takes conscious movement – conscious steps along a path. So here are the five steps:

  1. Denial
  2. Negotiation
  3. Anger
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance
  6. Integration

A friend described the phases as:

  1. No
  2. Only if
  3. UUUggghhh…GGGGrrrrr
  4. A glass of merlot please
  5. Well let’s make the best of it
  6. This is fun.

The only constant in  life is change. As we move towards a greener more sustainable home life, we need to understand that the more quickly we can step through the change curve – through our feelings – the more effective we are. And the happier we are.

So yes choosing to live a more sustainable life is about change. And with that comes the typical change curve and feelings. How we choose to react to those feelings will determine how we adapt. Sometimes our fear of change keeps us being bumped around by the rocks longer than is real. Sometimes our denial of our feelings keeps us from moving through the change curve to “This is fun.”

So ultimately once we understand that our reactions to change are normal and predictable, we can relax and let go. We can float through that darkness and land happily on the other side.

At the end of the tunnel.

At the end of the tunnel.

So enjoy today. Enjoy the imperfection and have faith in your ability to change, grow and live.

What is your technique to adapt to change?

Let’s talk about it. Your ideas may be the answer someone is searching for,,,,

yours in Corporate Social Responsibility

Cara MacMillan MBA


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Book Review: B.S. Incorporated

Rock and Voss have written an endearing book that celebrates and mocks corporate culture with respect to change. We see a company that must change and adapt as it faces obsoletion from technology advances and globalization. Will takes us through the challenges of working with old and new bosses who have rested on the laurels of past successes and now are in a hurry to adapt and change. It is witty, sarcastic yet perceptive and makes you think.

If you have ever been a boss who got so comfortable in the job that he forgot leadership but chose absolute power, then you will enjoy this book. If you have ever experienced a new boss who is filled with ideas that annoy, or worked with  a consultant who cannot understand why their catch phrases are not getting the employee engagement you hoped, then you will enjoy reading this book. And while laughing you will learn and grow as a leader..

Will is the kind of hero, you would have a lot of laughs with over a beer. So go ahead, grab BS Inc, grab a beer, and have a good laugh.


Yours in Corporate Social Responsibility

Cara MacMillan MBA

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Make Big Money and Make A Big Difference

People often ask me why I even talk about making a difference. You simply can’t make money and make a big difference they say. Well my portfolio proves you wrong. For years now I have been following the Principles of Responsible Investment.

Principles for Responsible Investment integrate environment, social and good governance principles into investing.

Principles for Responsible Investment integrate environment, social and good governance principles into investing.

You see investing along the principles of our collective world is in fact following the money.

Let’s walk through this.

Our world has changed. We feel record heat waves. We feel record rain falls and torrential storms. With these shifts in our weather, we spend more money on repairs, maintenance and insurance.

So when I see a change in my personal spending habits, I check with others and ask the same questions. We compare notes and then ask which companies are benefiting from our spending. Consistently I hear the same answer.

We focus our spending on quality not quantity. In a time when people are saving and paying off all debts, the simpler joys are the most important. So from my statistically inaccurate survey:

  • quality food that is healthy and tastes great. We focus on quality not quantity.
  • locally made so that it is fresher and I can support my neighbours. After all we all worked together to dig out after the storms and the floods.
  • an online presence so I know that they have a smaller real estate footprint and those overhead costs are not passed along to me
  • I am not buying from that store because they treat their employees terribly. Management is rude and condescending to the staff and are inflexible.
  • I will not bank with that bank because they had a layoff last year in my town and 80% of the staff that was let go were in some way disabled. It was probably just a coincidence or was it?

So what does this really mean? Translated into an investment philosophy it means that many people invest responsibly and they do not even know it.

Responsible investment is the practice of involving your values into your investment decisions. That decision can be a consumer purchase, a place of employment or an actual investment choice.

For the people who choose quality over quantity, you represent the responsible investment tenet of investing for long term sustainable profit rather than the short term. You look for consistency and reliability. You don’t want to worry about surprises like dishonest accounting or serious environmental damage lawsuits against the company.

Companies that focus on paying a dividend to its shareholders and are committed to growth are usually committed to quality over quantity. But check the financial reports and do your due diligence. These are the types of solid companies that Responsible Investors choose.

When you choose to support your neighbours because they are there for you through the storms then you are investing your community which is another tenet of Responsible Investment. This builds local wealth which can be reinvested into schools, hospitals and services that maintain or raise the quality of life.

So what does this mean to my portfolio? I am focusing more on companies who invest in their communities. Where do you find that information? Well I walk in and ask. If the employees are not aware of any community involvement programs – odds are they do not exist. You can also find it on their corporate web site. It is usually listed under Corporate Social Responsibility or Sustainability.

For your portfolio, pick the ones that give back in your community or the communities in which you have family and loved ones. You will be building your loved ones’ quality of life.

Commercial real estate is expensive. Costs of insurance, heat, hydro, water are all climbing as our urban infrastructures break and need repair. These costs are passed along to the consumer. The cost of the purchased item is higher because in order to make a profit, the retailer must cover higher carrying costs. So stores that are moving online will be passing along less cost to the consumer.

What does this mean to my portfolio? I am lessening my exposure to traditional commercial real estate.

Labour practices are an important aspect of responsible investment. I never make a decision on an investment based on hearsay. There are many research firms that review labour practices. Corporate Knights is one, so is Sustainalytics. Another tool that I enjoy is a great research tool! a great research tool!

Negative screening is another way to participate in Responsible Investment. For whatever reason you do not want to invest in a company. You are uncomfortable with its business model, abhor its business processes or maybe you just don’t like them. If you have a disabled family member that was laid off and you do not want to be associated with that company then you have the right to make that choice. You can still have a balanced portfolio because there are many other solid choices in the same sector from which you can profit. The key to Responsible Investment is that it lets you put your money where your values are.

So how does one make Big Money and a Big Difference? You go with the flow. The flow of Big Money like pension funds, insurance companies and endowment funds are investing in Responsible Investment. They recognize that fiduciary responsibility means more than just making money and managing financial risk. It means making money with integrity and quality consistently over time.

Yours in Corporate Social Responsibility,

Cara MacMillan MBA

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