The past year has been one of reflection at True North Marine. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected people around the world in profound and challenging ways; many have lost loved ones, experienced unemployment, or fallen seriously ill themselves. Similarly, it is hard to overstate the economic pain afflicting businesses both in Canada and elsewhere. At True North Marine we’ve been able to adapt; this year we have not had to lay off any employees and have even been able to expand our operations department. However, within our industry many have not been so fortunate. Seafarers in particular have been hard hit the past 10 months with many stranded aboard their vessels in increasingly untenable situations. Reflecting on the past year, we resolved to think of ways we could give back to our community and support worthy causes in this critical time.
Giving back to our community has been an aspiration since TNM’s founding, however this crisis has provided the impetus to supercharge this initiative. But upon launching this initiative, we found ourselves asking further questions: What was the best way to give back to our community? Who exactly is our community? How could we maximize our impact?
Our Selection Process
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs are undertaken by organizations large and small, and some have been controversial. Some critics assert that certain CSR initiatives work at cross purposes with the day-to-day operations of their organization. Even well intentioned organizations must exercise caution and conduct some due diligence when undertaking a CSR program to ensure that the partnered organization aligns with their own principles. It is also important that you don’t treat CSR as merely a PR exercise; CSR programs are a great opportunity to define your company’s principles and to put your money where your mouth is.
When TNM launched our own CSR initiative, we decided that partnering with a non-profit organization was the best option for us to maximize our impact. We also wanted the process to be guided by a set of principles: whatever organization we chose to partner with needed to have a measurable impact; we also wanted to ensure that the organization is active in our community; and we wanted to ensure that our employees were able to provide their own input and, once we’d selected a partner, would have opportunities to actively involve themselves. Our ultimate goal in abiding by these principles was to ensure that our relationship with our CSR partner was not just superficial and that we could hold ourselves accountable for our impact.
The organization we selected is Mercy Ships, a not-for-profit organization which operates hospital ships, providing access to healthcare in developing countries. Their current vessel, the MV Africa Mercy is presently undergoing maintenance in the Canary Islands before heading back into Senegal for the next field service later this year. Mercy Ships newest vessel the MV Global Mercy™ is nearing the final stages of build.