Businesses led to adopt a longer-term management perspective through governance and social responsibility - Speech by Monique F. Leroux, Chair of the Board, President and CEO of Desjardins Group, to the Institute of Corporate Directors

    MONTREAL, Sept. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - "The positive effect of new governance
rules and concern from businesses for social responsibility is that businesses
have had no choice but to adopt a longer-term management perspective," stated
Ms. Monique F. Leroux, Chair of the Board, President and CEO, Desjardins
Group, today to participants of the Institute of Corporate Directors
conference that is being held in Montréal, set to the theme of Governance and
Financial Markets in North America.
    For Ms. Leroux, this is an essential issue in business management and she
believes that cooperatives already have a head start.
    "Whether we are concerned about the business' broader role with regard to
the community or our future workforce, or are trying to establish sustainable
and harmonious relationships with various stakeholders - clients, employees,
suppliers, local communities and governments... in fact, all the people and
entities upon which our activities have an impact or which may influence the
future of the company - we must look beyond the current quarter. On this
point, I believe that cooperatives, which belong to their members and are for
the most part supported by them, have a definite advantage," added Ms. Leroux.
    According to her, a distinct trend in the matter of social responsibility
is settling in, which increasingly requires businesses to adopt higher
standards, not only in terms of governance, but also with respect to human
resource management, investment, commitment to the community, the environment,
workplace health and safety, and human rights.
    "To target financial performance alone, at the expense of everything
else, is turning out to be less and less sustainable. Today, a growing number
of investors and institutions, financial or other, demand to do business with
companies with recognized sound governance practices. And this trend will not
be turning around," she stated.
    Despite not being subject to the same rules as public companies,
Desjardins Group has chosen to apply responsible governance principles,
adapting them to its reality as a cooperative. "Governance is necessarily
influenced by the mission and values of the organization. It would be too
simplistic to view it as a mere normative framework or a set of rules of
conduct. That is why we can say that sound governance is also a question of
attitude and mindset," stated Ms. Leroux. "To this end, one of the main
challenges that I'm faced with as President and CEO is to make sure that our
mission and values are known to all throughout the organization so that they
can be brought to life in our daily activities. Thanks to these widely shared
values, we can all work together in an environment of self-discipline guided
by responsible governance."
    With a view to continual improvement, Desjardins is therefore fully
intent on continuing to combine recognized governance principles with
democratic practices that will make it even more transparent and accountable
to the interests of its members and various stakeholders. "These past years
have proven that none of this is incompatible with solid financial performance
and constant progress in our various markets," she concluded.

    About Desjardins Group

    Desjardins Group is the largest integrated cooperative financial group in
Canada, with overall assets of nearly $152 billion, as at June 30, 2008. It
comprises a network of caisses, credit unions and business centres in Québec
and Ontario, and some twenty subsidiary companies in life and general
insurance, securities brokerage, venture capital and asset management, many of
which are active across the country. Drawing on the expertise of its
40,000 employees and the commitment of more than 6,500 elected officers,
Desjardins offers its 5.8 million individual and corporate members and clients
a full range of financial products and services. Its physical distribution
network is complemented by leading-edge virtual access methods. To find out
more, consult

For further information:

For further information: (for journalists only): Nathalie Genest,
Advisor, Information and Media Relations, (514) 281-7275, 1 866 866-7000, ext.

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