When you’re a new President and CEO of a Canadian Crown corporation, the logical way to use your first public blog is to introduce yourself, let people get to know you.
But the week before I posted this, Export Development Canada did something that’s incredibly important, not just for us, but for the sectors we serve and the companies and partners we work with.
EDC has released its first ever stand-alone Human Rights Policy.
To be clear, EDC has always taken a strong position on human rights, bringing a lens of sustainable and responsible business to all our transactions. But it would be wrong to say we’ve always got it right.
Done our best? Of course. Followed best practices? Without a doubt.
But could we do better? The answer, of course, is yes.
That, put simply, is what this policy does. It will help us do better.
First, it provides clarity to everyone–our customers and partners, our stakeholders, as well as the Canadian government and governments around the world–on where EDC stands.
Second, it’s a standard against which we can be held accountable by all of the above.
The policy aligns EDC with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and other international best practices. It also sets us apart as the first Canadian commercial banking institution to set out a stand-alone policy that meets these high standards, putting us on par with the most progressive export credit agencies in the world.
This is important for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that EDC is mandated to help Canadian companies do business in some of the most challenging markets in the world. We also know that what we do – promote Canadian trade–has the powerful potential for creating good in the world. Changing people’s lives by bringing them together and lifting them up.
That only happens if trade puts people first. Our new policy will help us do this more clearly and consistently. It will help us make the right choices about when to engage or divest from a relationship. And, when engaged, how to use our influence to identify and then manage, negative impacts when they happen, in particular for vulnerable peoples.
When I took this job, my promise was that EDC would operate by a set of positive and clear values that would drive our most important decisions. I now make that same promise publicly, to you.
Will this policy make us perfect? No. But it creates the conditions for success. It gives us the right lens for our due diligence, the right light to shine on our business, and a way forward that works for us all.
As we follow that path, we’ll always be open to your feedback so we can continue to do better.
By way of introducing myself, there’s a lot more I could talk about: growing trade, managing risk, promoting small business. But for now, I can’t think of anything quite so important as helping you understand my values.
Because that’s where leadership begins.