January 18, 2019

Funding to Build Cities and Investing to Build Community

According to ICI Director of Human Resources, Ashley McKarney, corporate social responsibility is at the core of modern-day recruitment and employment. “The workforce mentality used to be live to work, and in many industries, it’s now work to live. Employees tend to view work as a means to live their lives, and because so many people spend so much time at work, it’s imperative that they are not only contributing professionally to the organization, but that they’re also standing behind a brand and a company that means something to them,” Ashley explains.

So, what gets employees to stand by their employer and take pride in the job they perform day in and day out? Ashley thinks it has something to do with making the employee feel like they’re part of something greater than themselves, and also making sure that the company supports causes that are important to its employees. “To maximize employee engagement, employees should see a deeper connection between themselves and the organization, aside from their day-to-day role. Engagement is being fully absorbed and enthusiastic about their work; coming to work for more than just a paycheck,” Ashley says. “An employee who is intrinsically interested in their role and invested in the company can be linked to many things including corporate social responsibility. I think the more unique ties you have between an organization and its teams, you are inherently adding as much value to their employment as possible, resulting in retention.”

This focus on developing employee engagement through corporate social responsibility has now been placed at the forefront of the company’s priorities. “We’ve been so intent on providing the best possible experience for our clients, and we’ve realized that we haven’t built out a strategy for what is important to our team within the context of community. We have always been very client-centric – supporting our clients’ charitable endeavours,” Ashley explains. “Today, we’re focused on engaging our communities directly and making an impact on areas which are important to our team members.”

While Canada ICI certainly still does those types of client-facing community-building activities, there’s also now an effort to connect with the community through ICI employees. Canada ICI has established a community investment committee, consisting of individuals across various departments, focused on donating to causes suggested by employees. “We put it out to all employees,” Ashley says. “They submit applications describing the charities that they are either personally involved with, or they’ve been personally affected by.”

The donation committee has created alignment and engagement across the Canada ICI team, as employees have stepped up to provide an annual list of worthy causes to support. “Last year, we gave back to eight different charities across the country, donating notable amounts,” Ashley says.


It not only creates linkages between the community and Canada ICI, but it also creates that individual connection from the employee to the company, because the company is investing in what matters to them.

ICI’s employees are making individual efforts and practicing their own form of corporate social responsibility by supporting causes they believe in. For example, Kyle Edwards and Tye Reidie donated countless hours to the Glenmorgan affordable housing project in Calgary. Marg Sebzda, Kassie Montgomery, and Ashley participated in the National Women Build Day with Habitat for Humanity – not only physically building sheds and fences, but also raising $68,000. Also, a number of ICI brokers created a hockey team to participate in a charity tournament, and according to Ashley, the team has “raised over half a million dollars for Alzheimer’s research since 2009.”

As for how she would like to see Canada ICI’s corporate social responsibility evolve in the future, Ashley keeps it simple: “As we move forward, I think it’s important to make those intentional relationships last. Not only donate money, but to also donate our time, and involvement. The world is so busy, and we all get so bogged down with everything day-to-day that I think we can sometimes lose those extra touch points.”

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