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Driven by a social purpose: Novex and the United Way join forces to set change in motion

Novex has always cared about its impact on the environment, but now the courier is taking that same passion to the communities it operates in, acting as an agent for social change.

The company is one of eight businesses in the Lower Mainland to join the United Way’s pilot cohort of the Social Purpose Business Innovators Lab – a unique initiative designed to encourage companies to play a role in solving issues at a community level.   

“We’ve tried to solve social problems single-handedly as the social sector, with some help from government and academia, but we’ve never brought in business in this way before,” said Mary Ellen Schaafsma, the United Way’s director of social innovation and research. “We see the cohort of Business Innovators as a way to bring the business community to the table to become part of the solution.”


Doing business differently:
Companies like Novex will explore their social purpose and learn how to manifest it in their business models with the help of tools designed by the United Way.

Businesses that participate in the program will look at how their operations can create social good, often starting with initiatives that are important to employees – like childcare, family-friendly policies, education benefits, and much more.

But it’s not enough to simply identify the initiatives, according to Schaafsma.

“It goes a lot deeper,” she said. “Companies then have to look at how every department can contribute to the social good.”

Human resources, purchasing policies, sales and supply chain management, spending policies, risk management and more can all be areas and agents for social change.

“We’re very excited to be part of this one-of-a-kind initiative that puts communities first,” said Brett Surgenor, Novex’s sales and marketing specialist. “We care about the environment, our community and employees, so the United Way’s cohort is a great way to further our existing social responsibility goals.”

Companies like Novex will explore their social purpose and learn how to manifest it in their business models with the help of tools designed by the United Way.

“Attitudes are changing. People don’t just want to cut cheques to solve social problems. They want to get their hands dirty and help make a better world,” Schaafsma said.

In Novex’s case, customers need to get packages from point A to B. The company is thinking about its assets and what it can do to bring more social good to the communities it operates in.

“Over the next several months we will work to identify our social purpose and analyze how our different areas of operation can play a role in achieving that social purpose,” Surgenor said.

Seven other companies – including Hemlock Printers, Hollyburn Properties, International Web Express, Lafarge Canada, LGM Financial Services, Mills Office Supplies, and Westcoast Sightseeing – join Novex in the Social Purpose Business Innovators Lab Cohort.

All companies are measuring the impact of their social purposes on employee relationships, customer relations, new business and more.

“We want to see if our anticipated changes are happening and measure the social purpose impact,” Schaafsma said.

The United Way’s program gives businesses the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded organizations, explores ways to give back and offers businesses a competitive edge.

“We can’t wait to see Novex’s social purpose in action,” Surgenor said.

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