Who do you trust to lead change? If you answered ‘my employer’, you’re in line with the 79 per cent of Canadians who say CEOs should take the lead on change, rather than waiting for government to impose it. According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer survey results, people agree that CEOs can create positive change on important issues including pay equity, prejudice and discrimination, and training for the jobs of tomorrow. Canadians trust their employer to do the right thing more than the government, NGOs, and the media.
This localized trust presents a unique opportunity to today’s business leaders in Metro Vancouver and beyond. Top executives and CEOs were keen to explore The Battle for Truth: 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer at a breakfast event on March 6. Co-hosted by MacKay CEO Forums, Edelman, and the BCIT Alumni Association (BCITAA) at the BCIT Downtown Campus in Vancouver, BCITAA President Emil Bosnjak and BCIT Vice President Advancement Paul McCullough welcomed the 80-plus guests.
“Employees are looking to employers to lead on important issues,” said BCIT alumna Bridgitte Anderson, general manager, Edelman Vancouver, who presented the trust barometer survey results. “More than two-thirds of Canadians believe that a company can take specific action to make a better world for everyone. For example, Patagonia took a strong stand on climate change, donating their recent U.S. tax cut to the cause. And when MEC was called out for lack of diversity in their ads, the CEO led the charge on representing diversity through its See Yourself Outside ad campaign and on his board.”
Moderated by MacKay CEO Forums (MCF) Founder Nancy MacKay, a panel of three CEOs and members of MCF then shared their success — beyond just profits — within their own organizations.
“Today, what is right is changing more than profits, it’s about social responsibility,” said Peter Blake, BCIT alumnus, BCIT INSPIRE Cabinet member, and former CEO of WesternOne Inc. and Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers. “If you want to build an organization and attract and retain top talent, you’d better lean in to this. The train has left the station, and hopefully, you’re not still sitting on the platform.”
Brent Charleton, a BCIT alumnus, past president of BCIT Alumni Association, and president and CEO or EnWave, talked about how he sees credibility as the currency for success. He said he prioritized achieving alignment or buy-in with his team to create trust among his employees and encouraged honest and direct communication.
“We were stuck choosing opportunity over values, and had misaligned objectives at the senior leadership level,” said Sunny Ghataurah, BCIT alumnus, BCIT INSPIRE Cabinet member, and president of AES Engineering Ltd. “So we worked to build trust and engagement with our employees. Everyone is highly communicative and we have more alignment than ever before.” He added his company grew by one third and revenues have increased 20 per cent over the previous year.
Guests then shared their experiences during round-table discussions and engaged in a Q&A period with the panelists.
“It’s important to look at trust and leadership,” said Paul McCullough, vice president, BCIT Advancement. “As an educator of the leaders of tomorrow, BCIT is proud to help lead this trust conversation with MacKay CEO Forums and Edelman to inspire change.”
In closing, Nancy MacKay challenged the audience to lead with purpose: “Go beyond serving shareholders. Deliver value. Establish yourself as a trusted source. Engage on issues that matter. It sounds risky but your employees are expecting you to take the lead.”
BCITAA President Emil Bosnjak said, “The BCIT Alumni Association is so pleased to host this event together with MacKay CEO Forums and Edelman as part of our 40th anniversary year. BCIT alumni are now 180,000 strong. We are in every sector, making vital contributions to our local economy every day, and indeed, have far-reaching impact across the globe.”
Photo (l – r): Emil Bosnjak, President, BCIT Alumni Association; Paul McCullough, Vice President, BCIT Advancement; Leslie Courchesne, Executive Director, BCIT Alumni Association; Peter Blake, Corporate Director; Nancy MacKay, CEO, MacKay CEO Forums; Bridgitte Anderson, General Manager, Edelman Vancouver; Brent Charleton, President & CEO, EnWave; and Sunny Ghataurah, President, AES Engineering Ltd.
Visit bcit.ca/alumni for upcoming events.