Halcyon is a B Corps!


Halcyon Consultants has achieved B Corps Certification!

When we first started dreaming about building Halcyon, it was because we wanted to build a company that could be profitable and do good. Good for the community, good for the environment and good for future generations.

Check out the link below to find out more about what it means to be a B Corps!

enjoy today!

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Banking – Whose #1?

Banking…Whose #1? This is a four part blog analyzing which of the various sectors within banking are sustainable. So many companies publish CSR reports and submit them to the Global Reporting Initiative status but not all product lines are actually applying the concepts. The Banking sector wins lots of awards for Corporate Social Responsibility. Over the next two weeks, I will be publishing a blog series to illustrate how the banking product lines can take Corporate Social Responsibility one step closer and in so doing, take our world exponentially closer to a greener, more respectful and inclusive world which we all share…

The banking sector will be key in the foundational building of an environmentally sustainable economy. The purpose of this paper is to assess the contribution of the banking and financial sector to promote sustainability. The current status, contribution and the challenges that are faced by banking will be analysed. The opportunity that banking has to make a bigger impact in our world will be discussed. The banking sector includes commercial banks, investment banks, mutual funds, pension funds, contents/property/casualty insurance, life insurance, venture capital and foundations.


Commercial Banking

Commercial banks “institutions that primarily accept deposits and extend credit to serve consumer and corporate needs for capital” (Ganzi et al., 1998). The focus of commercial banking is debt provision. As many private sector commercial banking firms have a traditional lending model, collateral is required for loans. The developed countries are more likely to lend to traditional industries that are not yet committed to sustainability. This is because current due diligence processes cannot yet quantify biodiversity and carbon. The commercial banking sector can improve its contribution to sustainability by demanding environmental and social justice assessments be included in the business plans and loan requests.


Research is ongoing to determine how we can create a due diligence that accounts for all RISKS…..we need more strategy and innovation in commercial banking to address the lack of businesses’ commitment to corporate social responsibility.


…..part2 will be published on Sunday


Yours In Corporate Social Responsibility

Cara MacMillan



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Sharing – my journey to Waswanapi

Irene – thanking us for sharing

Recently I had the opportunity to drive north and deliver a truckload filled with generous donations from St Maurice Catholic Church in Ottawa to the First Cree Nation of Waswanapi. The donations were overwhelmingly generous and heartfelt. Handmade afghans, quilts, dishes, clothes and art. New sheet sets and blankets, books and toys and craft supplies. I was humbled and moved by people’s generosity and kindness and so I set out on my solo trek north to personally make sure that the supplies arrived where they are needed.

For those of you who know me, one of my weaknesses is my sense of direction so the idea of driving for almost eight hours through the North was intimidating. But I pushed through my fear and just drove. This post is as about my journey.

The Canadian near north is more beautiful than I ever imagined.

The Wetlands and River

There is an independence and strength is the landscape. Abundant in trees, wildlife and fresh water. Birds flew and I stopped a couple of times to just really take in the beauty of this land. I wanted to feel the joy of seeing my first eagle soaring above. I wanted to feel the joy of seeing a moose in the distant. I was elated when a deer  stood and stared at me from a short distance away. Our eyes met. I felt peace. I stopped to listen – not to the highway sounds, I was only one on the road – but to the wind. I had never heard the sounds of the Canadian wilderness. It was ennobling.

I had lots of time to think. I arrived late so we unpacked mid morning the next day. A dog helped – he tried to get us to play fetch with one of the balls of donated wool. Irene seemed really excited – about how these gifts could be used to enrich lives. You could just tell – she loved to enrich people’s’ lives. I thought about the people who donated so generously – they too gave with the hope that a life could be enriched. And yet they gave without being able to see the smiles, hear the laughter, feel the beauty of the Canadian North.

This is my way of thanking each of you. In typical Canadian manner, Irene asked, “There is so much here, more than we need, may I share it with communities north who need it?”


And with that, I started the long journey home. So to all of you who share of what you have to anyone in need, thank you.
It is with faith, love and hope that we continue to build this country: the land that connects us with our commitment to share and care for each other. We need to again see what we share and we must together dream of what we can build

To close, I will use the words of a companion Women for Nature ; Margaret Atwood:

Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.         Margaret Atwood The Penelopiad


enjoy today





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Volkswagen – Justice?

Vollkswagen – you committed fraud.

It was a beautiful summer day in August 2014. Rumours started that the sustainable company Volkswagen cheated. Many people were in denial. But a West Virginia University research team proved that the company was lying about their CO2 emissions testing. It was discovered that VW knowingly installed software to activate pollution controls during government emissions testing and then turned off pollution controls for regular driving. The cars were found to emit nitrogen oxide into the environment at levels of 40 times greater than the legal limit. Not good. And it was determined that this was a conscious decision within VW to commit fraud.

So what was the fallout?

Well first a $15B civil suit.

On Wednesday of this week, the U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated”Volkswagen obfuscated, they denied and they ultimately lied”. VW agreed to a plea bargain and accepted a fine of $4.3B US. Six senior employees will be indicted. One thing that concerns me is that VW has announced a policy forbidding its employees from travelling to the United States…does this mean those who committed fraud are still employees?

Volkswagen A+ rating months prior to the discovery of fraud

Yes Volkswagen was granted one of the highest ratings by the Global Reporting Initiative. They even had parts of their GRI submission externally audited. So this means that they held themselves up to the external world as a company that is ethical, principled and committed to protecting the environment as well as social justice.

So the betrayal is greater and the fallout is too. Class action suits, other governments will also introduce charges and fines. The mistakes of a small group of employees will have lasting effects.

VW is doing things to fix it. It has invested in compliance and risk management. The focus is on compliance, enterprise risk management and whistle blower initiatives.

From VW’s compliance web site.

As stakeholders we have to make a choice, are we ready to forgive the company?

Recently I was asked by a young friend, “So if I make a mistake, and I do my time out, and I am really sorry, do I get to go back and play?”

Let’s talk about it. VW made a mistake, they are doing their time out, they are fixing the problem, are we ready to welcome them back into the Sustainability circle? Are you?


your in Corporate Social Responsibility




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Live your Code of Conduct

Create your Code of Conduct

A Code of Conduct is the collective understanding of how individuals will behave and act. It includes the corporate vision, mission, and guiding principles and affirms the company’s commitment to core values and beliefs. The language of a Code of Conduct should be easily understood. It should not be legalistic but rather it should be empowering. The entire corporate team should see this Code of Conduct as an opportunity to solidify its existing commitment to a high standard of ethical behaviour.

For the past four years, we have been building Halcyon Consulting Group into a company. It is our dream that we can work with clients to be proactive in implementing sustainability into the lifeblood of their companies at the pre-growth stage. The TSX needs companies to lead in corporate social responsibility – so do our RRSPs, TFSAs, RIFS, and our pension plans. We saw a need to prepare entrepreneurs  to strategically structure their companies with Corporate Social Responsibility as a strategic imperative so that they are poised for growth and competitiveness in a globalized economy. When it makes sense, they can go public and create wealth for all.

Yet the cobblers’ kids did not have shoes. I am proud to admit that we took this assignment as an opportunity to figuratively buy shoes. At a recent strategy focus session, I took the tools that I have learned in this course and facilitated a session whose output was our corporate Guiding Principles and our Code of Conduct. Both will be added to our Annual Financial Reports and to our “About Us” on our web site. Collectively we will proudly hold ourselves accountable to a higher ethical standard.

In preparation for the strategy session, each team member was asked to take a personal values assessment. There is a free tool online which we employed: Barrett Values Center. Each person took the assessment and brought the report to our strategy session. Values were then shared as a group. The values that were important to the team were:

  • Integrity
  • Caring
  • Environmental Awareness
  • Respect
  • Accountability
  • Future Generations
  • Wealth
  • Consistency
  • Social Justice
  • Good Governance

There were other values as well. But we found that these were the ones which we could link to our Vision and Mission. The corporate Vision is: Calm from Chaos. The corporate Mission is: To lead our Clients into growth as they prepare to be a mid-sized pre-publicly traded company.

By the end of Day 1 of the strategic planning session, the directors had created the Code of Conduct for Halcyon Consulting Group:

We believe and practice respect, integrity, caring and accountability. We consider environmental awareness, social justice and wealth as building blocks for future generations. We behave consistently. We practice and promote good governance within Halcyon and with our stakeholders.

As a team, we each signed and we have now added this Code of Conduct to our contracts. We expect our stakeholders to understand our Code of Conduct, and to support us in its application. An introductory letter is included with our expectations for our stakeholders:

The Code of Conduct is a corporate tool that allows a common understanding of what are the values and principles of a corporation. In a world of cross cultural globalization, what is an acceptable behaviour in one culture may be a violation of basic human rights in another. As a world, we have decided to step up and move beyond what is legal to hold ourselves to a higher ethical standard. Ethics is defined by Webster as a guiding philosophy. It includes a set of moral principles which define what is good and bad. We built our Code of Conduct to align our individual values and principles with our professional values and principles. We ask that you sign with us so that together we can consistently deliver principled leadership to our clients. 

Our next step is to create a guide that will give each of examples of situations where we need to make a choice; a decision. The guide will help us learn and apply the guiding principles in both our lives. I choose to say lives, because when you work with family, it is more difficult to have these discussions and uncomfortable when one is corrected. We have added a beautiful dimension of growth to all areas of our partnership.

Our team is culturally diverse and the vocabulary that we chose resonated with us but we soon learned that words can be misleading. We followed the suggestions outlined by Robert Audi in “Creating a Framework for Ethical Decisions”.

  1. Classification
  2. Identification of Conflicts of Obligations
  3. Ethical Assessment of the Obligations
  4. Selection of Ethically Viable Options
  5. Decision on a Course of Action

(Source: Audi)

Conflict in the workplace comes from a difference in the application of our principles and values. The Code of Conduct is a tool that ennobles corporations and individuals to conduct business at the highest ethical standards. We can work aligned with our guiding principles and be authentic to ourselves. It is my hope that by (finally) creating the Code of Conduct with my leadership team, we will be better equipped to work as a team. We will lessen confusion with respect to decision making, improve communication and employee engagement. Our stakeholders will engage with us because of our guiding principles so that at the end of each day, that gut feeling of disgust that one feels because of working with an unethical person will be a distant memory.



Audi, R The Role of Business in a Free Democracy (2009)

Barretts Value Center: https://www.valuescentre.com/

Boatright, J. R  The Ethics and Conduct of Business (2009)

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