BioTalent Canada

Robert Henderson, President & CEO

“We used to think about charity as just a nice thing to do; now we realize it also makes good business sense.”

When giving is good business – BioTalent Canada

Why does BioTalent Canada choose to host a HealthPartners workplace campaign?

BioTalent Canada provides the fuel for the bio-economy in terms of skills and talent – which fuels, feeds and heals the world. We know that in this multigenerational, multicultural work environment, being cause-driven is the one common value we all share.

When BioTalent Canada set out to create its own corporate giving approach, looking for causes that allowed us to focus on our mission really seemed logical. HealthPartners allowed us to support the charities that drive the bio-economy by funding research and helping Canadians affected by a wide swath of health issues.  This is a cause that zeroed in on the industry that we’re trying to help with our mission, which lent itself to really good storytelling about our purpose.

How do your employees view this campaign?

Our staff were expecting us to show up as good corporate citizens and to help focus them on what we were doing and the good it can do for the lives of Canadians, so they really liked the idea of BioTalent Canada initiating rallying around a cause. Often, charity at work is more grass-roots – someone puts a food basket in the lunchroom and solicits donations from their colleagues. In this case, it was the employer instigating focus on a cause in a way that aligned with our employees’ values and helped them feel more connected to us. With more than 90 percent of Canadians personally affected by the causes HealthPartners supports, how many people can really say that they haven’t been at least indirectly touched by those causes themselves?

And that sense of benefit exists throughout the year, not just during campaign time. We ask them about whether they feel affinity to our charitable cause in our annual employee engagement survey and they resoundingly tell us they do.

“We used to think about charity as just a nice thing to do; now we realize it also makes good business sense.”

Robert Henderson, President & CEO, BioTalent Canada

What’s the link to corporate reputation?

Three years ago, we received an award for Workplace Charitable Giving from Great Places to Work, which is exclusively linked to our HealthPartners campaign. We didn’t do it to get that accolade, but we’ll certainly take it! We also recently won a 5-Star Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Employer award by Canadian HR Reporter, and I believe the fact that our HealthPartners campaign is so inclusive helped us achieve that recognition, too.

The industry we represent is 80% small businesses who don’t even have HR departments. Good talent is hard to find with the labour market as tight as it is right now, so they’re having to be even more competitive. Most organizations compete on compensation, but in a country as diverse as Canada with 1 million newcomers coming every year, companies must compete for talent on multiple levels. One of those levels is the heart and mind – corporate social responsibility. People want to ensure that they can go home at night feeling good about the company they’re working for. Corporate giving helps change the talent game. If we’re going to be advising organizations on how to compete for talent, we know that part of the picture must be corporate giving. They are best practices for HR, that SMEs can offer without much cost.

You’re busy – how hard is it to host a HealthPartners campaign?

It’s virtually turnkey. HealthPartners makes it so easy with the giving platform, with payroll deductions, with a campaign that comes gift-wrapped for my staff to integrate with pre-existing meetings. It’s seamless.

HealthPartners is a very human charity. It’s easy to put the faces of our own families to it. The more that HealthPartners can help put a face on the good that we’re doing in the bioeconomy, the happier we at BioTalent Canada are.

Final words

Charitable giving is entering a new phase and HealthPartners is on the cusp of it. We used to think about charity as just a nice thing to do; now we realize it also makes good business sense, especially in a country like Canada which is so diverse. It dots all the Is and crosses all the Ts. It’s simply the way businesses should operate. Employees are raising their expectations and employers need to meet them.