SASKATOON, Oct. 24, 2017 /CNW/ - A new report commissioned by Indigenous Works and prepared by R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd. reveals an alarming finding: 85 percent of Canadian businesses are in no way engaged with Indigenous communities. Over a period of six months in 2017, researchers from Malatest surveyed more than 500 Canadian medium and large businesses. They examined not only the extent to which these companies and organizations engage with Indigenous communities, but also the systems, structures and supports they have in place to spur engagement, forge partnerships and build long-term relations with Indigenous groups. Most are lacking. The average score in the new Partnership Index score created from the survey data was only 13/100.
While some partnership successes have been realized in the resource sector, in other areas of the economy there is virtually no interaction between businesses and Indigenous organizations. Four profiles emerged from the research. The disengaged majority (85% of corporate Canada) are passive and unaware of Indigenous partnership value. Engagement novices (9%) believe that engagement will help grow their businesses but they lack the skills and competencies to take the next steps. Relationship builders (4%) and committed partnership builders (only 2%) are motivated by access to Indigenous labour markets, business and community development and creating long-term, ongoing relationships.
"The general picture which emerges from the research is that businesses across most sectors need help with their Indigenous partnerships," says Kelly Lendsay, President and CEO of Indigenous Works. "Indigenous people will continue to struggle socially and economically until they are able to participate more fully in the Canadian economy, and that means more social, business and employment partnerships need to be developed and awareness needs to increase. Only one in four companies are aware of the 2016 Truth and Reconciliation Commission call to action to businesses."
"This challenge also represents an opportunity for both corporate and Indigenous leaders," says Stephen Lindley, the Co-Chair of Indigenous Works and Vice president, Aboriginal & Northern Affairs, SNC-Lavalin Inc. "Nearly 70 per cent of the 'disengaged majority' say they need at least one form of support to move forward with specific guidance needed from Indigenous communities and engaged businesses."
A federal tri-partite working group from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) as well as a national advisory group agree that this report is a wake-up call for Indigenous communities and the corporate sector alike. While there are many successful partnerships across Canada, this new research provides strong benchmarking data to track future progress. Reconciliation is about remembering and honouring the past but also about building a more hopeful future with full Indigenous employment, social and economic development.
Brent Bergeron, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Goldcorp Inc. chaired the research project's national advisory committee. Businesses in other sectors can learn a lot about the partnerships which have been successfully developed with Indigenous communities. Bergeron says, "Over the years companies in the resource sector have developed new standards and innovations in their engagement practices. While we are still a long way from achieving full partnerships with Indigenous communities, there are lessons and knowledge which businesses in other sectors can benefit from."
Patricia Baxter, co-chair of Indigenous Works affirms the need for corporate Canada to support reconciliation. "Indigenous Works is launching a new strategy focused on building awareness and education about partnership building between corporate Canada and Indigenous communities. 'Creating Partnership Intersections' will roll out in 2018 as part of a call to action to shift the direction on corporate/Indigenous engagement and improve the Partnership Index score. Indigenous Works is calling on Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses and organizations to support this action. Canada must work together toward reconciliation", says Baxter. "Corporate partnerships for employment, business and social development is one way we will achieve this."
To obtain the summary report, click on this link: "Researching Indigenous Partnerships: An Assessment of Corporate-Indigenous Relations".
SOURCE Indigenous Works
For further information: Kelly Lendsay, President and CEO, Indigenous Works, Phone: 306 291 0424; Stephen Lindley, Co-Chair of Indigenous Works, Vice-President, Aboriginal and Northern Affairs, SNC Lavalin, Phone: 416-679-6236; Patricia Baxter, Co-Chair of Indigenous Works, Phone: 819-851-6496