A Corporate Perspective on the Value of Working with Social Entrepreneurs

20 Sep 2018

Finding uniqueness, mutual benefits in the collaboration between RSA Canada and SSE Ontario

By Paula Bernardino, Communications Manager, Corporate Responsibility & Engagement, RSA Canada

Paula BernardinoOn December 6, SSE Ontario celebrated its fifth anniversary. On the occasion of this big milestone, we at RSA wanted to take a moment to reflect on the evolving relationship between our company and SSE.

As the Communications Manager, Corporate Responsibility & Engagement for RSA in Canada, I’ve had the opportunity to witness first-hand how this collaboration is evolving alongside wider practices in the private and not-for-profit sectors. These changes come as the world responds to climate change and society’s increasing expectations around social sustainability.

A good corporate responsibility partnership helps both organizations mutually benefit from the collaboration. Cooperation between RSA Canada and SSE Ontario started in 2014 after introductions between SSE London and RSA UK and has flourished over the last few years. In Canada, we started by copying what was done in London between RSA and SSE: to host “Dragon’s Den” types of pitching events as well as to offer mentorship opportunities by pairing RSA leaders with SSE’s social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. These relationships have been fruitful for everyone involved, and we look forward to continuing along these lines.

Over time, the dynamism of SSE Ontario got RSA Canada to push the collaboration to another level, so we started working together on co-creating programming on topics where our staff have expertise: introduction to risk, customer relations, marketing, financial management and social media. This year we presented 5 webinars and hope to add more to next year’s schedule. These “RSA Experts” webinars are a unique feature not present in the London RSA-SSE collaboration.

Partially inspired by the dynamism of the changemakers I met at SSE, I recently completed the Business Sustainability Management program at Cambridge University and also joined the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

Through these programs, I’ve gained a more holistic understanding of how the global shift toward more socially and environmentally sustainable business models can create a better world and new market opportunities. Working with an ally like SSE, experts in “people-planet-profit” models, means that our Corporate Social Responsibility program can evolve beyond chequebook philanthropy to create meaningful change and win-win innovation.

Our collaboration with SSE over the last few years has given our company a chance to re-affirm our social roots, ones planted by RSA’s founder Charles Povey, a visionary London-based social entrepreneur whose socially progressive actions after the Great Fire of 1666 gave birth to formal insurance as a way to manage risk for everyone, from the powerful to socially and economically vulnerable households.

We are looking forward to continued collaboration with SSE Ontario in 2018. We will continue our involvement in mentoring and presenting webinars; we will also begin exploring other ways to be involved and collaborate, particularly through SSE’s SELECT program on climate change.

It’s still a little early to tell how this will all evolve, but we at RSA are excited to be asking new questions and exploring cooperation that helps us as a company expert in helping communities manage risk. With natural disasters becoming more common in Canada, we are keen to figure out how we take Charles Povey’s vision of insurance as a social good to the next level.