Last May, we announced the two winners of Ian Martin’s annual Meaningful Work Volunteer Program, Jessica Meaney and Chris Kennett. Both Jessica and Chris are back from their trips and have some exciting highlights to share!
Ian Martin’s Meaningful Work Volunteer Program offers up to $10,000 for Ian Martin contractors to take an international volunteer trip of their choice to make the world a better place. In 2019 we awarded two contractor volunteer trips, both of which took place this past October. Jessica Meaney headed to Cambodia to participate in a Habitat for Humanity Global Village project, and Chris Kennett headed to Peru with Calgary-based Light Up The World to provide solar photovoltaic systems in rural communities without access to electricity.
Here’s a closer look at these life-changing projects.
Jessica Meaney – Habitat For Humanity – Cambodia
Jessica was in Cambodia for one week supporting the Global Village project, which helps urban populations in Cambodia construct disaster resilient and appropriate housing and sanitation solutions.
Jessica worked on a team of 13 Canadian nationals alongside local Cambodian masons. Their efforts helped build two homes for two families; these homes are specifically built to sustain environmental challenges affecting these communities, such as frequent flooding.
Meaningful work means working for something beyond yourself and providing benefit for others. By helping to build this home, we were literally building the foundation for these families to experience meaningful work themselves – they are now able to have a safe home, enabling them to have better opportunities to help their families and their communities.
– Jessica Meaney
For Jessica, the trip enforced her desire to have a positive impact in her local community. Working on a team as part of a large project, she learned that each individual task has incredible importance and impact on helping people and their families thrive.
Chris Kennett – Light Up The World – Peru
In Latin America, 30 million people are without access to electricity. Chris travelled to the Peruvian Andes to install a solarphotaic power system at a rural school that was nearly an hour’s drive away from any power grids.
Light Up The World does a lot of due diligence making sure the systems are set up properly and are sustainable for the communities to run long-term. This allows these communities to transition away from using fuel-based lighting and spending a significant amount of their income on batteries.
The most meaningful part for me was the fit for purpose of the installation. The solarphotaic system is designed to last 15 years or more. When we were done and you see that every room had lighting and the school was able to bring in laptops and projectors for education, it was really a fit for their needs. I’m happy that the children will get so many years of benefit from our work.
– Chris Kennett
For Chris, the trip reinforced just how much people can thrive when their basic needs are met. Thanks to his efforts, the children at the school he was working at will have access to better education, and will go on to help their families and communities in the years to come.
We’re so proud of both Jessica and Chris for using their talents towards these life-changing projects and for joining us in our mission to connect more people in meaningful work. To read more about our Meaningful Work Volunteer program (and, if you are a current Ian Martin contractor, to apply), click here. To see our past winner Sam Cheng’s story, click here.
The summer is heating up, and so are Ian Martin’s stewardship efforts! Our company mission is to connect people in meaningful work—but we understand that there are real barriers to employment that people face. Through the Meaningful Work Foundation, we’re funding community organizations in North America and India that explicitly work towards breaking down barriers to employment. This life-saving work provides the foundation for personal growth so more people can come into an experience of meaningful employment and self-fulfillment.
In fiscal 2019, the Ian Martin Meaningful Work Foundation has donated a total of $85,000 across six organizations. We are beyond delighted to introduce our 2019 grant recipients: Plan International Canada, LiveWorkPlay, and Cornerstone Housing for Women. From equitable access to education, housing, and employment opportunities, these organizations are transforming their communities in immensely impactful ways.
Plan International Canada
Children, especially girls, are among the world’s most vulnerable populations. Plan International Canada works around the world to advance children’s rights and equality for girls, and creates lasting impact in the lives of children and their communities.
The Ian Martin Meaningful Work Foundation has donated $15,000 towards a 5-year pledge totaling in $75,000, which focuses on the Rajdhani region of India and includes the following objectives:
- Providing children under the age of 3 with early childhood care, nutritional support & education services to build community platforms and networks;
- Hold trainings with the theme of children’s rights, child protection, and International Day of the Girl;
- Promote immunization amongst children;
- Promote birth delivery in hospitals;
- Collaborate with the government to reach more children & provide quality services for children;
- Encourage parents to take interest in the school system & training of the school management committees, and;
- Continue to focus on women and girl’s safety issues in the project location and surrounding areas.
The first step towards meaningful work on a global scale is ensuring the basic needs of our world’s children are met, so we’re excited to be working alongside Plan International Canada to advocate for children’s rights in India.
For more information, visit https://plancanada.ca/
LiveWorkPlay – Ottawa, Canada
People with intellectual disabilities are among the least privileged people in our society and are particularly vulnerable to exclusion and poverty. LiveWorkPlay helps the community welcome and include people with intellectual disabilities, autistic people, and individuals with a dual diagnosis to live, work, and play as valued citizens. They work directly with about 200 people with disabilities each year with a variety of supports focused on inclusive outcomes in housing, employment, and social lives.
LiveWorkPlay’s work is focused on individuals with intellectual disabilities having homes of their own (with the supports they need to succeed), real work for real pay, and engagement in recreation, arts, sports, citizenship, and friendships throughout the community with individuals and organizations from all walks of life.
The Ian Martin Meaningful Work Foundation has donated $15,000 towards their LiveWorkPlay Employment Task Force and Federal Employment Strategy Group, which will support 50 new hires for people with intellectual disabilities, autistic persons, and individuals with a dual diagnosis.
For more information, visit www.liveworkplay.ca.
Cornerstone Housing for Women – Ottawa, Canada
It’s a well-researched fact that affordable housing saves lives and is directly linked to increased employment rates. And after experiencing homelessness, women, and especially Indigenous women, face unique barriers to success. The reasons why women become homeless are varied, but the main reason is lack of affordable housing, followed by mental health challenges and hospital stays, partner violence and relationship breakdowns, addictions due to chronic trauma and abuse and immigration/newcomer challenges. Cornerstone Housing for Women is an emergency shelter that also provides safe and affordable housing for women in Ottawa.
The Ian Martin Meaningful Work Foundation has donated $15,000 towards the Life-Long Learning Centre, which helps to remove barriers to employment by offering skills training, educational bursary support and opportunities for personal growth and development. The Centre provides women with opportunities to try new skills in a supportive environment and gain positive experiences so they can build on that momentum towards job readiness. For this project, Cornerstone is also providing Indigenous women’s support services—such as cultural education and support by local Elders—to welcome the women and set them up for success.
For more information, visit https://www.cornerstonewomen.ca/.
Plan International, LiveWorkPlay, and Cornerstone Housing join our roster of current partnerships with Autism Speaks Canada, Windmill Microlending, and Iris Malawi. Together with our grant recipients and partners, the Ian Martin Meaningful Work Foundation is continuing our mission to break down barriers to employment, and to lead with purpose towards a more inclusive economy.
… Jessica Meaney and Chris Kennett!
They say two is better than one, and we’re delighted to introduce two of our contractors, Jessica Meaney and Chris Kennett, who will be putting their skills to use to help others around the world in 2019!
It is a deeply held core belief here at the Ian Martin Group that every act of meaningful work can have a profound influence on the world. In order to further connect our pool of skilled contractors to our mission, in March of 2017 we launched our annual Meaningful Work Volunteer Program. This program offers up to $10,000 for Ian Martin contractors to take an international volunteer trip of their choice to make the world a better place.
Here’s what Jessica and Chris will be doing to change lives in Cambodia and Peru:
As a dedicated volunteer in my local community, I was thrilled to be selected for this year’s Meaningful Work Volunteer Program. This coming October, I will be traveling to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to participate in a 10-day Habitat for Humanity Global Village project. The organization’s efforts in this area are focused on supporting urban populations construct disaster resilient and appropriate housing and sanitation solutions.
I look forward to immersing myself in the local culture and working alongside community members to build a new home for a local family. Ultimately, I hope that my participation in the program will help to break down barriers and enable the deserving family to live a happier, healthier, and more financially secure life.
The volunteer organization I’ve selected is Light Up the World (LUTW), a Canadian non-profit organization focused on the principle that access to energy changes lives. LUTW works in rural communities without access to electricity to provide solar photovoltaic systems that help communities transition away from using fuel-based lighting and spending a significant amount of their income on batteries and charging cell phones.
LUTW has installed hundreds of systems in the Peruvian Andes, which is where this assignment will take place. The volunteer experience is hands-on with far reaching impacts, including: health and safety in the home, enhanced opportunities for education, and increased household income. I look forward to meeting new people, experiencing a new culture and ultimately participating in LUTW’s goal of helping to lift others out of energy poverty from a sustainable source.
We are so proud of Jessica’s and Chris’s passion and determination to use their skills toward meaningful work that changes lives. We look forward to sharing more about their trips at the end of the year!
Digging into the bigger whys behind corporate social responsibility efforts
New research confirms that small and medium-sized businesses, like Ian Martin, aren’t just taking on social and environmental causes in an attempt to indirectly boost their bottom lines.
A recent research article by a team of academics from the University of Waterloo raises some interesting observations about the motivations at play for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who choose to invest in the greater good of their communities and the world.
In doing the research for their article, Conceptualizing businesses as social actors: A framework for understanding sustainability actions in small‐ and medium‐sized enterprises, the authors looked at the underlying drivers of social and environmental efforts of SMEs . They dove deep into data from over 1,600 Canadian SMEs and conducted complementary in‐depth interviews with a variety of companies, including Ian Martin. What they discovered was that the motivations of SMEs paint a picture that’s got many more shades than just the green of cold, hard cash.
Traditionally, SMEs have been viewed by society as “rational actors,” a term used to describe organizations that calculate costs and benefits in a deliberate pursuit of profits. The overarching goal of efforts for these types of companies is growth and profit. If rational actors choose to invest in environmental or social causes, the assumption is that they are doing so because there will be some sort of economic gain as a result of their efforts. Costs savings from energy reduction initiatives and greater employee engagement as a result of charitable giving campaigns are two examples of this type of thinking.
But business is changing and things are no longer so black and white. Realizing this, the authors of the article set out to identify some of the other factors that motivate SMEs to become involved in environmental and social causes. The research findings challenge the common assumption that SMEs primarily see sustainability as a way to cut costs. Today, many SMEs are even more powerfully motivated by building a good reputation within their community and aligning business operations with their personal values.
The authors rely on the concept of “social actors” to characterize organizations that are capable of seeing beyond the balance sheet as they define their business, set intentions, make and act on their decisions and hold themselves accountable for their actions. They identify four dimensions that influence the actions of social actors:
- The intentions, identities, beliefs and aspirations of individuals within the organization
In interviews conducted for the research, every single respondent referred to personal values as an important factor behind their company’s adoption of sustainability goals, including aspirations to address climate change, advance social and gender equality, reduce waste and promote sustainable food production.
- The internal social relationships within the organization
When asked what value they placed on internal social agendas at their company, 89% of the firms surveyed perceived employee well-being as important.
- The network of external social relationships at play in the organization’s day-to-day operations
Of the firms surveyed for their research, 75% sited building good relations in their local area as either important, very important or extremely important. Whether through encouraging employees to be involved with local organizations and their causes or ensuring social and environmentally responsible sourcing through their supply chain, social and environmental agendas are shaped through strong external social relationships.
- The social environment, including the institutional landscape and social norms of the organization
Building a good community reputation was most often cited as the most important benefit associated with acting on sustainability found in the research.
While there’s no doubt that businesses must operate competitively in order to survive, this type of research helps increase awareness that growing the bottom line is no longer the sole objective for a growing number of companies. At Ian Martin, we believe business can and should be used as a force for good. As a Certified B Corporation, we are working with 1,600 other companies from 42 countries across the globe to redefine success in business. In addition to being financially successful, our B Corporation status means that we hold ourselves to the world’s highest standards for positively impacting our employees, our customers, our community and the environment.
If you’re currently looking for work and wondering if there are advantages to employment with a Certified B Corporation, here are some blog posts that will give you a better sense of how our B Corp status inspires us to do things a little differently at Ian Martin:
If you’re an employer and you’re curious if social responsibility is really on the radar of potential candidates, this blog post is well worth your time: Do Candidates Really Care About Corporate Social Responsibility?
Raise your hand if any of the following thoughts have passed through your mind when hitting the submit button during the online job application process:
- “Will I stand out as a good fit for this job?”
- “Will the right person even see my resume?”
- “Will I actually hear back from a human this time?”
If your hand is in the air right now, know that you’re not alone. At Ian Martin, we understand the job search process can sometimes leave candidates feeling like they’re a party of one in an uncertain and ego-challenging land. While we can’t promise all 10,000 of the candidates we receive resumes from each month a personal follow up call, we do feel strongly that the experience shouldn’t leave candidates feeling disconnected.
That’s why when you apply for a position with Ian Martin you’re given an opportunity to connect with someone else on the planet who is also on a quest to find meaningful work. Every time a candidate applies for an Ian Martin posting, they’re given a $25 credit to make a loan to a entrepreneur of their choice through Kiva.
Kiva is an international not-for-profit organization with a mission to alleviate poverty by connecting people through lending. By offering access to small amounts of capital, Kiva connects entrepreneurs who aren’t able to access funds from institutions, friends, or family, the way that many of us in the first world can. That funding, in turn, allows the recipients to do meaningful work to support themselves, their families, and their communities. Kiva loans are true loans, with interest fees and an expectation of full repayment. Kiva’s current 97% loan repayment rate illustrates that the entrepreneurs receiving these funds respect that.
Since launching our Kiva applicant donation program in 2014, Ian Martin applicants have helped alter the lives of thousands of people across the globe. While not every single applicant elects to donate their $25 credit, the impact of those that do quickly adds up. Four years into the program, applicants’ efforts have already:
- Produced over $100,000 in loans
- Impacted communities in over 84 countries
- Created life-altering new opportunities for 2,776 female entrepreneurs and 900 male entrepreneurs
To provide a better sense of the impact that applicants are making, here are profiles of just a few of the entrepreneurs whose loans were funded with $25 deposits from Ian Martin applicants in the last few months of 2018:
- Nena, an entrepreneur in the Philippines, received a loan of $575 to help buy fish trap materials like plastic screening, bamboo, nails and nylon string, and dried fish.
- Zaida, an entrepreneur in Uganda, received a loan of $150 to help stock her store with more tomatoes, onions, and avocados.
- Marame’s team of women in rural Senegal received a loan of $2100 to help them buy sheep.
- Arc secured a loan of $200 to purchase more hairdressing material and hair products for her beauty salon in Zimbabwe.
- Daniel, an agricultural entrepreneur in El Salvador, received a loan of $1,000 to buy supplies to grow corn and pay for labour.
- Kadiatu’s female farming collective in Sierra Leone received a loan of $2,375 to help them pay for improved seed, organic inputs, and tractor rental. This will allow them to transition from subsistence farming to working a larger area of land with a higher yield.
If you’d like to apply for a new position and help change the life of an entrepreneur in the process with a $25 Kiva credit, browse our current job opportunities in:
- Power and Nuclear
- Information Technology
- Oil and Gas
To receive alerts about new job opportunities in the industries that are of interest to you, you can also register to have a daily or weekly email with the latest postings sent directly to your inbox, here.
To learn more about kiva, visit kiva.org.
You’ve found a strong candidate. The interview is going well. You’ve told them about your company’s impressive benefits package, highlighted the opportunities for growth and development within the position, and shared some of the things your company does to support work-life balance. As you go through your mental checklist of all the factors that could positively influence the candidate’s decision to join your team, you feel like you’ve checked all the boxes. But has your pitch included some evidence that your company is committed to improving the lives of people and the health of our planet? If not, there’s a 50% chance that great candidate is going to walk out the door at the end of the interview and never look back.
According to research, your company’s commitment to corporate responsibility has a direct tie to attracting and retaining talent that may be even stronger than you realize:
- 58% of candidates surveyed said they consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work.
- 55% said they would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if the salary was less.
- 51% said they will not work for a company that doesn’t have strong social or environmental commitments.
Highlighting corporate social responsibility is even more critical if you’re trying to convince a candidate that is between the ages of 27 and 35 to join your team.
- 67% of this mature Millennial segment surveyed in the study said they would not work for a company that did not have strong corporate responsibility commitments.
- 76% of mature Millennials said they would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if the salary would be less than at other companies.
Convincing candidates that your company is committed to making the world a better place isn’t as simple as pointing out your recycling bins and sharing some impressive figures from your charitable donation programs. Today’s candidates are wary of corporate greenwashing, so be prepared to share some hard data to prove that your company walks the walk when it comes to its social and environmental efforts.
One way that for-profit companies can prove without a doubt that they follow rigorous standards related to their social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency is to acquire B Corp certification. While the certification process will involve time and effort, it will set your company apart as an organization that is not only competing to be the best IN the world, but also to be the best FOR the world. Joining the roster of over 2,400 other Certified B Corps including recognizable names like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and Etsy won’t hurt your recruitment efforts either! You can learn more about the additional practical business benefits that Ian Martin has experienced as a result of our own B Corp certification here.
Since research suggests that 78% of employees want to be an active participant in helping their company improve its responsible business practices, the corporate responsibility case you present to the candidate shouldn’t focus solely on big-picture initiatives and results. Share examples of the processes and programs you have in place that allow employees to get personally involved in your company’s charitable and environmental efforts. Today, the priority that employees place on opportunities to personally support causes or issues they care about is on par with benefits like wellness programs and tuition reimbursement. If you have a community volunteering or pro bono program, share data to give candidates a better sense of how many employees currently participate. Encourage current employees to share their volunteer experiences on your company’s social media channels. This will allow candidates to see real-life examples of your commitment to your community when they are conducting pre- and post-interview research.
In today’s raging war for technical talent, employers should leave no stone unturned when it comes to convincing candidates why their company is a great place to work. Our Insider’s Guide to Technical Recruitment has some helpful tips to assist you in assessing your company like a prospective employee. If you would like to get additional insight into the types of questions that candidates may have about your company’s corporate social responsibility efforts, connect with one of our Ian Martin Hiring Consultants.
At Ian Martin, we exist to connect people in meaningful work. But as we’ve discovered, before you connect people in meaningful work, you must first connect with them meaningfully. Last Thursday, July 5th marked a new phase of Ian Martin’s engagement with and commitment to Indigenous communities in our local area and across North America.
In the presence of Shannon Monk Payne of Sakatay Global, employees in our office enjoyed a catered lunch from Toronto Indigenous restaurant NishDish, made tobacco ties, smudged, drummed, sang, and unveiled a beautiful land acknowledgement statement that now adorns the wall when you walk into our headquarters in Oakville, Ontario. The acknowledgement reads:
The headquarters of the Ian Martin Group is located on the traditional territory and treaty lands of the Mississaugas of the New Credit. This sacred land is part of the Dish With One Spoon wampum covenant between the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas, and Haudenosaunee that bound them to share, care for, and protect the lands and resources around the Great Lakes. Subsequent Indigenous Nations and Peoples, Europeans, and all newcomers have been invited into this treaty in the spirit of peace, friendship, and respect. We are grateful to work in the community on this territory and recognize our shared responsibility to honour the truth of the land and its treaties while strengthening our relationships with Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island.
For the past four months, a group of employees from Ian Martin embarked on a learning journey with Shannon Monk Payne to build our cultural confidence and awareness with Indigenous communities. Since much of our work is in the oil and gas sector, and since stewardship is a principal value of our organization, this initiative perfectly marries our triple bottom line of people, planet, profit. We have a duty to respect the original stewards of the land upon which we live and work; it is not only the first step towards reconciliation, but it is a step further along our company mission to break down barriers to meaningful employment.
Land acknowledgements are becoming status quo in some organizations, but we are committed to going above and beyond the writing on the wall. Ian Martin has built a business culture steeped in open, honest, and meaningful engagement that seeks to change the way business is done. As such, we want to go beyond simply unveiling these words and having them rest on our walls. We want to live through these words with an enlivened commitment to engage meaningfully with Indigenous nations to foster mutually beneficial partnerships based on trust, accountability, and respect.
To realize this commitment, we have accompanied this land acknowledgement with a series of internal and external action plans to break down barriers Indigenous peoples face and join forces with our local Indigenous communities to realize more meaningful employment for more people. Ian Martin is also part of the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCNI) First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Engagement Committee, which works in partnership with Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation, as well as Canadian nuclear suppliers, to increase Indigenous representation and opportunity in Canadian business. We have committed to partnering with a local Indigenous organization as part of our newly developed Meaningful Work Foundation. We have established connections and will foster relationships with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, upon whose traditional lands our headquarters operates. We will be rolling out an Indigenous cultural training program to all our employees. We have established our own Indigenous engagement task force to hold ourselves accountable and to keep improving on our goals. Still, there is much work to be done.
May this mark the beginning of a new journey forward not only to open doors for more people in meaningful work, but to open more doors of understanding and meaning in our commitments to the communities with which we share this land.
Meaningful work was abound on Friday, June 15, 2018 as Ian Martin employees participated in our annual BCorp Day festivities, which included volunteering at several initiatives across our branches in Canada, the US, and India.
Every year we take a break from business to do good in our communities through meaningful, hard work! It is also a chance for us to honour our status as a Certified B Corporation, and celebrates our efforts toward making business a force for good for our communities and for our planet.
Here’s a snapshot of what we accomplished:
Among other initiatives around town, in Oakville, our employees helped plant trees and remove invasive species for Oakville Green, helped build and beautify furniture at Habitat for Humanity, served up a delicious meal at Eden Food for Change, and sorted donations at Safety Net Child and Youth Charities. And after a morning of volunteering, our team celebrated with an afternoon BBQ and pickup softball game – a favourite company classic.
In Ottawa, our team helped out at the Cancer Foundation and the Silver Spring Farm Garlic Project, which helps support persons with developmental disabilities.
In Calgary, employees helped at Seniors Resource Society where they went to an elderly woman’s home and put in 12 total hours of yard labour—everything from cutting the lawn, weeding, and cleaning up her patio.
In Edmonton, our team had a fur-filled morning at the Edmonton Humane Society where they wrote thank you cards for monthly donors and socialized with the animals—basically anyone’s dream job.
In Houston, our employees volunteered at NextOP, which supports military veterans returning to civilian life after honourable discharge. Our team helped veterans with job searches, resume writing, and placement support.
Our India team made a huge impact at the Ashraya Government School in Bangalore. Over 60 employees spent the morning designing projects to help children with their learning and development. The team also donated school supplies to the school, along with their interactive project plans.
All in all, 162 Ian Martin employees participated, with each person contributing to an incredible 512 total volunteer hours! Check out the photos below that capture some of us hard at (meaningful) work:
Recently, Ian Martin’s Stewardship Council celebrated the launch of a new partnership with Autism Speaks Canada. Gathering together with a cross section of Toronto’s employers at an event in April called “Senseations,” the Ian Martin Group celebrated the wins and also the challenges faced by the autism community seeking employment—which are, unfortunately, many.
The partnership is the first official partnership of Ian Martin’s newly established Meaningful Work Foundation, which gives 10% of Ian Martin’s profits to organizations that break down barriers to meaningful work. Beyond just giving money, the Foundation creates mutual relationships with its partner organizations—including mentoring programs, events support, and thought/experience exchange—so that together, our impact is maximized.
Edwin Jansen, Head of Marketing at Fitzii (a subsidiary of Ian Martin) spoke on behalf of the Ian Martin Group at the event and signalled the importance of the partnership to our overall mission to connect people in meaningful work:
“The employees at Ian Martin are obsessed with doing what we can to build a world where each and every person is pursuing meaningful work, and there is no bigger opportunity to make an impact than with this community gathered here. Adults with autism are 14% more likely to be unemployed than those who are developmentally delayed[KS1] . Not only is there 80% ASD unemployment, but of those who are employed only 6% are making a competitive salary versus people in similar jobs. This job market isn’t just inefficient – it’s completely broken – and we have a lot of work to do.”
We’re just at the beginning of a long road ahead, but we’re moving down a bright path. Ian Martin’s Meaningful Work Foundation will provide an initial $15,000 donation to Autism Speaks. In addition, we’ve made the commitment to participate in the Worktopia program that gives adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) exposure to different workplace settings and provides job search mentoring.
We couldn’t be more excited to roll up our sleeves and begin the first stages of what will surely be a long and impactful partnership. At Ian Martin, one of our mantras is, “hiring is an act of optimism.” As we seek to challenge ourselves and others to engage the autistic candidate pool intentionally and with purpose, we know that we can make a difference for the present and future generations of people who are affected with ASD. Will you join us?
For information on Autism Speaks and how you can get involved, visit them at www.autismspeaks.ca.
Last summer we announced with great enthusiasm the winner of the 2017 Contractor Volunteer Experience program – Sam Cheng. Sam recently returned from his adventure in Cambodia where he spent two weeks installing clean drinking water facilities.
It was truly an experience of a lifetime – read on for Sam’s reflections on his adventure.
There is plenty of time to think on a 17-hour flight from Los Angeles to Singapore. I mulled over respectful approaches to enter and serve a Cambodian village community. I reflected on my reasons for serving, or as my colleagues put it, “Why I would take a vacation from work to do more work.” I fretted over the details—things like what our team dynamic would be like. Most of these wonderings had some form of conclusion but there was one question that kept me thinking: How do I most effectively use this experience to bless the people of Cambodia? It is a country set back by slave labour, malnourishment, and disease—a country where the potential impact of meaningful work can be so clearly realized.
Upon touching down in the city of Siem Reap we immediately found ourselves in the midst of unfamiliarity, from the heat and humidity to the thickly crowded traffic. Our team promptly made our way west into the Banteay Meanchey province. Our arrival in the province was met with crowds of children as we visited a local school to participate in hygiene education and to distribute hand soap. In terms of our project, it is crucial that education be provided alongside safe drinking water, including education on why water filtration is necessary. While it may seem obvious to us, much of this information is new to those living in rural Cambodia.
After this visit, we made our way to Banteay Chhmar Primary School, our home base of the next few days. There are quite a few adjustments that a Canadian has to make when serving in Cambodia; however, in the hectic busyness of each day, the body and mind adapt quickly. Chaotic traffic, unfamiliar scents, constant sweating in 35-degree heat, sleeping in mosquito tents, and bucket showers became quite normal after the first two nights.
Over the next few days, we spent the daytime hours mixing and pouring concrete, constructing and deconstructing molds, painting water filters, and installing them within individual homes. The installation of these filters was quite simple: we cleaned the concrete housing with bleach, washed the three different sizes of sand and gravel aggregate, poured the aggregate in even lifts (largest on the bottom), ran bleached water through the filter, and measured the flow rate for quality control. Once this process was complete, contaminated water can be poured into the filter to facilitate the development of the biolayer, which sits atop the aggregate and contains microorganisms that consume harmful pathogens. The aggregate also serves to remove contaminants by trapping larger pathogens and unwanted debris.
Our Biosand water filters were installed in rural villages near the Thai border, where many homes were occupied by soldiers and their families. I tend to wander off and explore when travelling but had to restrain myself this time around due to the potential of unexploded landmines in the vicinity, yet another remnant of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the late 70s that claimed the lives of over 2 million people in acts of genocide.
At each home we visited, we caught a glimpse of daily living in rural Cambodia; and as we listened to the villagers, we heard stories of suffering and great perseverance. One story stuck with me. This story was about a father who was on the brink of suicide after losing his source of income and being unable to support his family. In the thick of his despair, he received several chickens through a Samaritan’s Purse donation program—a donation that changed his mind about taking his own life. In a few months’ time, the chickens had multiplied enough to provide sustainable income for the family. This story resonates with me because I have made similar donations in the past, but with the sinking feeling that a few meager chickens could not possibly provide much. By the testimony of this family that persevered, I am reminded that my vision is limited; these donations, whatever they may be, can have much greater significance by providing hope and saving a family on the brink of collapse.
“By the testimony of this family that persevered, I am reminded that my vision is limited; these donations, whatever they may be, can have much greater significance by providing hope and saving a family on the brink of collapse.” – Sam Cheng
While there we would also stop by villages to promote hygiene education and distribute soap and snacks. These gatherings were always a treat as we had the opportunity to interact and care for all generations of the community, from elderly grandmothers to babies just learning to stumble about. The joy, laughter, and companionship I witnessed among these poor communities were a gentle reminder that many of our material possessions and desires are not necessary for contentment. And, as a Christian, these experiences remind me that I can use my engineering talents and experience for the betterment of others.
“The joy, laughter, and companionship I witnessed among these poor communities were a gentle reminder that many of our material possessions and desires are not necessary for contentment.” – Sam Cheng
Throughout this experience, I was continually inspired by my team members, who at this point had become as close as family. Most of them were either nearing retirement or recently retired—a life stage that is usually associated with rest and relaxation, yet they all had a shared focus: to use their newfound time to love and care for those in need. I can only hope that when I arrive at that life stage, I may have a heart as unselfish as theirs.
The most difficult aspect of the experience was when it was time to leave. Two weeks is such a limited amount of time—so much still needs to be done. But my work does not end when I leave Cambodia; rather, the next phase of volunteering begins by sharing my story. I hope my story sheds light on the needs in Cambodia and encourages those around me to serve in whatever aspect they can, whether it be monetary donations, short term experiences like mine, or even long-term commitments. Although the necessity for clean water is so painfully dire in Cambodia, it is only one issue on an extensive list. My heart will not let me share my experience without pleading with you, dear reader, to consider getting involved. You and your work are so desperately needed. You can make a difference!
Some people question the need for in-person volunteering because the funds can instead be funneled directly into the area of need. With this experience fresh in my mind, I can confidently say that an in-person volunteering experience is 100% worth it. Witnessing the struggles and desperation first hand is a good reminder of our privilege, and chips away at the apathy within our hearts, while the joyous celebrations remind us that continual striving for material things may be more frivolous than we know. These reminders are sorely needed and always have potential to spread to those around us. For now, I will continue my volunteering at home and eagerly anticipate my next journey to Cambodia.
We recently sat down with Sam to discuss his experience in person. You can watch the video here.
Remember when you’d get to school after a night of doing homework, and the teacher says it’s time to take it up? Well, that’s what happened to Ian Martin Group’s Stewardship Council members on Friday, June 28th as we met together for the second time in our Toronto office. Our task had been to each come up with three clear sentences that described why we are pursuing Stewardship as an organization. How did we do? Well… let’s just say that we’re all trying again.
… SAM CHENG!
It is a deeply held core belief here at the Ian Martin Group that every act of meaningful work can have a profound influence on the world. In order to further connect our pool of skilled contractors to our mission, in March of 2017 we launched our first annual Contractor Volunteer Experience program. This program offers up to $10,000 for an IMG contractor to take an international volunteer trip of his or her choice to make the world a better place.
We are excited to announce this year’s winner: Sam Cheng!
Sam Cheng is a dedicated engineer who has worked in Alberta with us for the last two years fixing, testing, and designing pipelines. Sam was bestowed this year’s award because of his passion for pioneering new ways of bringing clean drinking water to rural communities in developing nations.
In November 2017, Sam will be travelling to Cambodia with Samaritan’s Purse for 2 weeks to build and install clean drinking water facilities for schools in rural areas. He will be on a team that will install Canadian-invented BioSand Filters which use layers of sand, gravel, and naturally occurring micro-organisms to transform contaminated water into safe water in seconds. Sam is passionate about the technologies that exist to create clean drinking water and seeks to better understand how we can use innovation to better the lives of communities in third world countries.
How does the filtration work? Samaritan’s Purse describes it in detail:
A school collects dirty water in a reservoir tank, which slowly releases the water into an adjacent filtration tank. Fine sand and a biological layer of water in the filtration tank trap and consume disease-causing parasites, micro-organisms, and viruses. More filtration occurs as the water continues to travel downward through increasingly coarse layers of sand and gravel where organisms die off without light and oxygen. The gravitational force of the unfiltered water above pushes the filtered water through a pipe and into a large storage tank for drinking and washing.
Construction of filtration system for a school in rural Cambodia.
We are so proud of Sam’s passion and determination to use his skills and spirit toward meaningful work that changes lives. We look forward to sharing more about his trip at the end of the year!
Applications for next year’s IMG Contractor Volunteer Award program will open in January 2018.
If you are new to volunteering or looking to get started, what better way than to talk to fellow employees about their volunteering experiences … so that’s what I did.
I reached out to Lisa Wong from the Winnipeg branch and Benevity team captain to get a better idea of where she volunteers – and I was very surprised by what I found out. Lisa has been with Ian Martin for almost a year, and has made a significant impact on her community just by volunteering. Read more
Everything that is done in the world is done by hope. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time”.
Promoting and providing employees with meaningful volunteer opportunities helps to attract top talent; engage, develop, and retain employees; boost public image; and improve the bottom line.
There are a significant number of opportunities to partner with organizations that align with Ian Martin’s foundational goals for Stewardship – here’s a look at one of them.
If you are (or have ever been) in the process of applying for work, chances are you’re familiar with “the resume black hole” – that feeling of uncertainty that descends when you hit the submit button.
- Will the right person see your resume?
- How long will it be before you hear back from someone?
- Will you hear back from anyone at all?
We hear you.
That’s why in 2013 when we first came across the statistic that 75% of workers applying to jobs didn’t ever hear back from the employer, we decided it was time to do things a little differently. Our goal wasn’t just to establish a better sense of connection with the 120,000 applicants who apply for positions with Ian Martin each year. We wanted to do it in a way that would give applicants who express an interest in working with us a real sense of who we are as a company, and an opportunity to join our mission.
At Ian Martin, we believe in and are working toward a world where everyone can pursue meaningful work. Obviously, that includes the candidates that we personally support, but our vision is much broader than that. We feel passionately that everyone on the planet should have access to work that is meaningful to them.
Kiva Lending Teams
Since 2014, we’ve been asking every Ian Martin applicant to play an important role in helping us achieve that vision. Each time someone applies for a position to one of our jobs, they receive a $25 credit that they can use to direct a loan to the global entrepreneur of their choice through the non-profit organization Kiva. From helping a Kenyan farmer purchase a biodigester to transform farm waste into fuel, to supporting a seamstress in Tajikistan with the purchase of an embroidery machine, our applicants are literally changing lives.
Redeeming the “resume black hole”
Too often, resumes disappear into a black hole, never to be seen again. But what if every single job application helped someone else in the world find meaningful work? It’s really a small way of making a big impact—not only between Ian Martin and our applicants, but between Ian Martin, our applicants, and the entire world. Together, we can make meaningful work accessible for more people, everywhere.
The business case for our Kiva program is a winner for our triple bottom line of People, Planet, Profit. In a nutshell, our original $50,000 investment has multiplied over time to provide over $106,000 in loans. It’s hard to argue with a return like that! More importantly, these $25 loan credits allow more people every day to discover the vital role that giving back to the world can play in the pursuit of meaningful work. To us, that is priceless.
To see an up-to-the-hour summary of the global impact Ian Martin applicants are making through their Kiva donations, click here.
Before every Stewardship Council meeting I either listen to, or have the lyrics to The Avett Brothers “Salvation Song” in my head. I don’t have a theme song but if I did, this would be it. Above all else it reminds me why I joined the Stewardship Council, and also why I love The Avett Brothers.
As a CEO, from time to time you get weak signals – feedback about the emotional life of the company you tend. It’s never a science but I try to gather these voices and pay attention when they begin to form a current. I believe one way to help ‘culture’ grow is to name and examine these streams when they become apparent.
Today, I am very excited to announce the founding ‘Stewardship Council’ for the Ian Martin Group.
NPS – Measuring how we’re doing with our largest group of stakeholders
In December 2011 the Ian Martin Group became a certified B Corporation. What’s a B Corporation again? You can read Tim’s post on the topic, but to sum it up, B(enefit) corporations operate the same as traditional corporations but with higher standards of corporate purpose, accountability, and transparency.
“I want to connect people with meaningful work.”
Last week, a small group of IMG employees attended a grassroots brainstorm hosted by Hypnotic and B Lab to discuss how businesses can do…well… better business. This low key event was meant to drive awareness and promote thoughtful discussion around how businesses can move toward mainstream adoption of the triple bottom line. Often referred to as TBL, Triple Bottom Line evaluates a business’ overall impact by measuring the three pillars in its sphere of influence: people, planet and profits. As one might guess, the evening’s discussion was heavy on people and planet but fell a little short on profit. This is not to say it wasn’t beneficial. Quite the contrary.
“We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.”
~ Winston Churchill
I love old bricks…
My wife, Kate, and I once rented an apartment in Ottawa sight-unseen simply because the landlord professed, “the living room features a beautiful three-story 19th century stonemasonry wall … and someone is scheduled to see the place this afternoon…”
I love old bricks…
Quietly walking through the streets of Cabbagetown – located in the corner of busy downtown Toronto – time slows down in the cobblestone alleys and drifts past the hand-built homes. The frantic pace of the city fades for a moment. Peace of mind gently settles in…
I love old bricks…
Further down Parliament Street – at the Distillery District – the richness, depth and texture in the stones tell a story. Many seasons have deepened their pores, etched autographs speak of milestones passed and, now, imagination has breathed new life into this once forgotten place…
It’s strange – bricks that have survived just a century seem rich with history in the North American landscape. So many have been knocked down for something better, painted over by zealous landlords, and sandblasted by gentrification. Our culture is constantly speeding towards the future, barely taking a breath to reflect on our past.
For this company, we have arrived at a moment that is all about the future. By October this year, we will be launching our new logos and website (see the new logos here). If you’re reading this, you’ve already found our new blog – perhaps via social media or our new quarterly newsletter. We have a new parent brand, “The Ian Martin Group” (IMG), to carry the well-known brands in our existing family: IML (Engineering), IMIT (I.T.) and The 500 Staffing (Temp & Perm). Furthermore, two new companies: IMT (Telecom) and Granary Inc. (Executive Search) are joining the fold to articulate expertise presently buried in other areas of the organization. New opportunities abound for our employees – we have adapted our “org chart” to increase capacity, improve our training & development and support deeper collaboration between teams. We even have a new face in senior leadership – Sue Hyatt has joined us as National Director of The 500 Staffing.
Recently, Rob Chorney, our IMIT branch manager in Toronto (also a new gig for him), likened all of this activity to a wedding announcement – the October launch may seem a long way off but you know the celebration is coming! At the risk of stretching the metaphor, I’ll add this: while the ceremony is the focal point of any wedding, we know the important stuff happens before the invitation and after the festivities are over…
So, for the rest of this post, I’m going to step aside from the buzz of “new” and reflect on our roots – as Bruce Mullock (VP Client Relations – who has a deep sense of our history and, notably, has served at IML longer than I’ve been alive) often helps me to do. Time in reflection often helps us see clearly the kind of future we want to create together.
About 12 months ago, we started working with brand-expert, Brian Rawlins, to help us more clearly understand, articulate and visualize the essential characteristics of our company. This sparked a conversation that has been germinating throughout the organization ever since. It begins with some basic questions:
Who are we?
Where have we been?
Where are we going?
And – especially – why?
We know the fundamentals: we have an excellent team of staff and contractors, a solid 50-year reputation in the marketplace, expertise in important verticals, long-lasting client relationships and a tradition of entrepreneurship. But one question from Brian just continued to persist, “Is there anything that makes you truly unique – a ‘leader’ in the marketplace?”
We turned this question over for months, backwards and forwards, up and down, at all hours of the day and night – asking everyone, anyone – to make sure that we had considered every possibility. In the end, the answer was right in front of us – in the form of an ‘old brick’:
“Fairness and integrity are the cornerstones of Ian Martin Limited.”
Once a leading, active, and unique vision in the marketplace – our cornerstones had been layered over by the explosive growth of ‘integrity’ as a buzzword in business – so over-claimed that it no longer provided any clear directive. Yet inside, we knew that this legacy of ‘fairness and integrity’ had gifted IMG with something rare and authentic. It was time to get out the sandblaster and rediscover its beauty.
The search for the right words continued for many months, with many contributing voices. One comment by Marc Ang (IMIT Recruiter) about “responsibility” stands out in my own mind, along with an article that Bill Fretz (Director of Search) turned up from a 1999 “Business Builders” meeting. That article focused on unpacking a single word – a word deeply embedded in our culture, like a buried treasure – an uncomfortable word, perhaps – awkward because it “just sounds so old-fashioned.”
Yet, suddenly that word began to embody the kind of unique, generative, authentic ‘integrity’ we’ve always known to be our cornerstone. Practicing ‘stewardship’ would mean taking our intrinsic talents, resources and opportunities – our gifts – and applying them to create a benefit that we share with others.
“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share
your riches but to reveal to him his own.”
At our best, isn’t that what we do? The word Stewardship can certainly be applied to the basic interactions we have in the natural course of business: ‘stewarding’ the careers of our candidates, becoming ‘stewards’ of our client’s success, and practicing responsible ‘stewardship’ by giving back to the community.
But Stewardship also demands that we ask some new questions that we still haven’t answered yet. For example, at IMG, how are we ‘stewarding’ the resources of our planet – do we even know how to measure that? As managers, do we think of ourselves as actively serving those who ‘work for us’? How often do we talk about the productive tension between ‘stewardship’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ (another one of our traits)? What about our time and talents – our ‘expertise’ – are we lending it back to our communities in a way that will foster growth for others? How are we modeling ‘stewardship’ or inviting others to participate with us in the joy of giving?
These kinds of questions – though none fully answered – have actually been taking shape in this organization for many years. Let me tell you a quick personal story… Back in 1995, I remember being cornered one weekend by my dad, Bill Masson (President of IMG). He had an idea (not like that was unusual) and he fully intended to draft my free time toward its execution (also, par for the course).
That year, Bill Gates had been named “Richest Person in the World”. So, my dad had decided to write him a letter. His idea was to convince Mr. Gates that he should give some of his fortune away (*teenager eye roll*). My dad’s role in the project would be author, and mine editor. Despite my “lost weekend” and the “obvious futility” of the exercise, we worked hard on this project. Looking back, I think it was a foundational exercise in articulating his vision of Stewardship – a base on which he and his team later laid the cornerstones of ‘fairness and integrity’ in 1997.
Unsurprisingly, Bill Gates never wrote us back. But, in a way, he did respond…
In 2008 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Gates gave a speech titled: “A New Approach to Capitalism in the 21st Century”. In it, he envisions a world where business demonstrates leadership by practicing what he calls “creative capitalism”. Gates explains: “Such a system would have a twin mission: making profits and also improving lives of those who don’t fully benefit from today’s market forces. ” Thirteen years removed from 1995, not only was Gates giving most of his fortune away, he was challenging us to integrate the idea of Stewardship right into our business’ day-to-day operations. Gates concludes his speech:
“The task is open-ended. It will never be finished. But a passionate
effort to answer this challenge will help change the world.”
At IMG, we want to have the courage and perseverance to take up that kind of challenge – and to be leaders in the effort. So, standing on our cornerstones of ‘fairness and integrity’, we’ve crafted a new statement to guide the journey – learning day-by-day to practice stewardship and entrepreneurship in balance. At IMG, we are:
“Building authentic connections around meaningful work.”
One final word – on bricks:
The renewal of the Distillery District in Toronto was sparked by a few people who committed themselves to a gathering vision – but it has continually flourished and been given new life by the artists, retailers, architects, tourists, construction crews, residents, engineers, pub owners, festival operators, photographers and citizens who have lent their talents to ‘steward’ its transformation.
It is that kind of collective leadership – leadership by stewardship – that I hope we can model as we walk boldly into the next chapter of our story at IMG together.