Cultivating a Community of Practice

Two years ago today, I launched the Canadian CSR and SD Practitioners Network on LinkedIn.

At the time, I saw a need for a network to connect individual corporate responsibility and sustainability practitioners in Canada.  There were already several Canadian (and, of course, international) organizations bringing together businesses and corporations around these issues, but, for the most part, these were or are not accessible to the individual practitioner, unless their employer is a member.  I especially welcomed the opportunity to create and participate in a community that meets my own needs and interests, living as I do in a small town quite outside the traditional corporate meet-and-greet circle.

I wanted to create a space where individual practitioners could share information, engage in dialogue with peers, and network with others in their sector, their region, and their area of expertise.  My goal was and remains to help increase the uptake of corporate responsibility and sustainable practices in business across Canada (and, where Canadian practitioners are active internationally, beyond).

If the growth in the Network is any indication, we are collectively realizing this goal.  From the beginning, interest in the Network has been steady and has far exceeded my original expectations.  I am encouraged with the addition of each new practitioner, and with every membership milestone – 200, 500, 700! – we pass, I am delighted to see evidence of real growth in sophistication, experience, and innovation in the corporate responsibility and sustainability space in Canada.

We have the good fortune of living in a time of incredible convergence of, on the one hand, tools and technologies that enable unprecedented access to and exchange of knowledge and ideas, and, on the other hand, growing awareness of and demand for corporate responsibility.  Those of you who have been in the corporate responsibility space for at least a decade will appreciate what a refreshing change this is from pushing a rope.  From just a few short years ago, when being a corporate responsibility advocate was often like being a voice in the wilderness, we suddenly have the capacity to make everyone a corporate responsibility advocate and practitioner!

With the Canadian CSR and SD Practitioners Network, we have together created a community of practice focused on issues of great importance to Canada’s long-term competitiveness and sustainability.  The Network helps us to share our experience and insight, relate achievements and seek help to overcome challenges, and find and nurture like-minded people who share a common interest in and vision of a better future for all Canadians.

Congratulations and thanks are due to all of the members of the Network, Canadians and our international friends alike, who serve as corporate responsibility and sustainability advocates and practitioners.  Your contributions to the Network have been crucial to its success.  I look forward to our ongoing engagement and dialogue in the years to come, and I welcome your thoughts on how we can make the Network even more valuable.

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