WestJet Tops List of Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures(TM)


    Research Also Finds Canadian Senior Executives Recognizing Critical Role
    of Corporate Culture in Business Performance

    TORONTO, Jan. 16 /CNW/ - WestJet Airlines has topped the annual list of
Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures of 2007, as announced today by
Waterstone Human Capital. This year's study also found Canadian senior
executives increasingly sensitive to the key role corporate culture plays in
business performance.
    WestJet has held the number one position on Canada's 10 Most Admired
Corporate Cultures for the three years since the inception of the awards,
testament to the company's singular focus on culture. This year's list also
includes four new top performers: Boston Pizza, Maple Leaf Foods, Purolator
Courier, and TD Bank Financial Group.
    "Progressive Canadian companies have connected the dots between corporate
culture and business performance," commented Marty Parker, Managing Director,
Waterstone Human Capital. "Corporate culture drives employee values. Employee
values drive behaviour. And behaviour is critical to delivering on business
plans and reaching goals. These ten companies are recognized by other Canadian
business executives for their mastery of this dynamic."Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures 2007:

    1.  WestJet Airlines (headquartered in Calgary, Alberta)
    2.  Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts (Toronto, Ont.)
    3.  Boston Pizza (Richmond, B.C.)
    4.  Royal Bank of Canada (Toronto, Ont.)
    5.  Yellow Pages Group (Montreal, Que.)
    6.  Maple Leaf Foods Inc. (Toronto, Ont.)
    7.  Manulife Financial (Toronto, Ont.)
    8.  Purolator Courier Ltd. (Mississauga, Ont.)
    9.  The TDL Group/Tim Hortons (Oakville, Ont.)
    10. TD Bank Financial Group (Toronto, Ont.)Co-Relation Between Culture and Financial Performance

    The proof of the power of corporate culture is in the numbers. This
year's 10 Most Admired companies average three-year revenue growth of
56 per cent; outpacing the S&P/TSX 60 Index's of 16 per cent. Three-year asset
growth for the ten companies averages 63 per cent, well-ahead of the
S&P/TSX 60 at 13 per cent.
    As part of the process to determine the winners, Waterstone Human Capital
completed one-to-one interviews with 185 senior Canadian executives. "While
Canadian executives have evolved to understand the important role of culture
as a potential competitive advantage, many still don't know how to foster or
manage culture," said Parker. "For example, 93 per cent of the senior
executives we interviewed saw the correlation between their corporate culture
and corporate performance; that's leapt up from just 14 per cent in 2005. Yet,
only 43 per cent even attempt to measure corporate culture. That's just the
first step to mastering your culture."

    Corporate Culture and the Impending Business Leadership Vacuum

    With 40 per cent of the North American workforce reaching retirement age
by 2010, Canadian businesses are on a desperate search for the next generation
of corporate leaders. And according to Waterstone's research, companies are
focusing their recruitment strategies on candidates with a cultural fit for
their companies rather than specific skills.
    Eighty-six per cent of the research participants said that cultural fit
was more important than skills when assessing executive-level candidates. Just
10 per cent said skills came first and five per cent said both were equally
important. The emphasis on fit is up from just a year ago, when Waterstone
Human Capital found that 76 per cent of executives identified fit as most
important.
    "We're peering over the edge of a leadership chasm," said Parker, whose
firm specializes in executive recruitment. "Due to Baby Boom demographics, a
big generation of business executives is getting ready to hand off the baton.
They need new leaders who can mesh with and enhance their current corporate
cultures. They're desperately seeking that perfect fit."
    Fit with culture is important because of the tangible impact on the
success of organizations. The vast majority of Canadian executives said that
corporate culture impacts corporate performance and 80 per cent said it
impacts the ability to retain top talent. But only half (50 per cent) said
that they had a process to integrate new leaders into their corporate culture.
    "Canadian businesses can see the need to manage culture but they're just
starting to figure out how to do it. This will be a predominant business
priority for the rest of this decade," concludes Parker.

    Methodology

    Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures are selected via a two-stage
process. First Waterstone Human Capital professionals interviewed 185 senior
Canadian executives from across Canada's largest 1000 companies. They named
the corporate cultures they admire. The short list of 50 most referenced
companies were invited to submit information which was reviewed by a Canada's
10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures Board of Governors. Final selection of the
10 Most Admired was based on frequency of nominations and the Board's
determinations against the criteria of: vision and leadership; cultural
alignment, measurement and sustainability; rewards, recognition and innovative
business achievement; corporate performance; and corporate social
responsibility.

    Waterstone Human Capital

    Waterstone Human Capital recruits at the leadership level across a
variety of industries and functional areas. Its processes and approach to
executive search are designed to maximize candidate fit to client
organizations while providing new levels of performance accountability in the
executive search industry.




For further information: or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Olivia Yu or Teresa Pagnutti at Environics Communications, (416) 969-2718,
(416) 969-2721, oyu@environicspr.com, tpagnutti@environicspr.com