Welcome to the TSSS Series on Canadian Women in CSR. Learn about their journeys, discover what inspires them and explore how they’re making a difference through their careers in sustainability. Please follow the link to read about other exceptional Canadian Women in CSR.
TSSS: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.
Coro Strandberg: I am the Principal of Strandberg Consulting, a role I have held for 10 years. I advise companies and organizations on how to create social and environmental value and solutions through the marketplace and in business models, value chains and ecosystems. I conduct thought-leadership research and training on the new frontiers of corporate social innovation to accelerate societal progress.
TSSS: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?
CS: Corporate sustainability and social responsibility have become mainstream since I began working as an independent advisor in 2004. I currently focus my work and advice on understanding how sustainability mega-trends (risks) will affect long-term business performance.
These days I support companies to go beyond compliance and incremental measures and become transformational in their regions and sectors. The goal is to enable them to positively influence major trends and achieve commercial success through social value creation within environmental limits. This is a paradigm shift beyond CSR “everydayism”. I also advise on embedment measures to address the planning-implementation gap, and help functions such as board governance, risk, HR, procurement and finance integrate sustainability into their mandates. My practice now includes measures to “wholesale” sustainability. I work with local and regional governments, value chains, and industry associations to scale up sustainability. I have more government projects as the public sector seeks to leverage CSR trends to foster sustainable regions. The focus today is on collaboration and innovation whereas in the past it was on base-lining and incremental improvements. Transformation, risks, embedment, functional engagement, collaboration and innovation are the new frontiers of corporate sustainability.
TSSS: Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who affected your sustainability journey and how.
CS: The biggest influence of my career was a role and the people, challenges and opportunities associated with it. I had the good fortune to be elected to the Vancity Board of Directors (1987-2000) and to chair the board for three years. It was there that I first heard about CSR and experimented with embedding social purpose into a corporation’s mandate. I learned it was not only desirable but profitable to pursue a triple bottom line. It was there that I learned how to work with boards and executives on the integration of social and environmental outcomes into governance and management.
TSSS: What is the best advice you have ever received?
CS: The best advice I received in the development of my business is to focus on my passion and abundance will follow.
TSSS: Can you share a recent accomplishment that you’re especially proud of?
CS: I am especially proud of the research I conducted for Canadian Business for Social Responsibility on the Qualities of a Transformational Company. It is a definitive tool for companies and others to understand the emergent CSR paradigm beyond business as usual and apply it to their operations and sector. Since the development of that tool in 2012, I have compiled a set of 19 case studies demonstrating transformation in action and advised a number of companies on the framework. Another recent accomplishment was the publication of a ground-breaking study on sustainable pay. It is the most downloaded study of all the publications on my website of all time.
TSSS: If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be?
CS: The one major change I would make is that industry and trade associations and their members would see the value of sector sustainability programs and collaborations. It is essential that sectors work together and across their value chains to foster a sustainable industry and society.
To read about other exceptional Canadian Women in CSR, please follow this link.