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32 www.bus-ex.com January 08 As befits a firm of engineering, environmental and scientific consultants, Jacques Whitford is committed to sustainability and to the development of its people. CEO Bob Youden explains to Martin Ashcroft why it’s good business all round Goodbusiness

January 08 www.bus-ex.com 33 The first official definition of sustainability was provided by the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations twenty years ago: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Inherent in this definition is the understanding that it has three distinct elements: environmental, economic, and social. This is sometimes referred to in management speak as the triple bottom line, or people, planet, profit. But how can an organization hope to be a good corporate citizen in environmental and social terms, without compromising the sustainability of its balance sheet? Bob Youden, CEO of Jacques Whitford, believes that respect for the environment and investment in developing people are not just the right things to do, but are also best practices for the health of the business. Jacques Whitford is one of Canada’s largest privately owned engineering and scientific consulting firms. Established in 1972 in Halifax, Nova Scotia by Hector Jacques and Mike Whitford, the company is still 100 percent employee-owned, and now operates from over 45 locations across Canada, the US and internationally. While it offers a full range of services, its specialties are environmental permitting, geotechnical services and remediation. A growing company needs to attract good people, and once it has them, it needs to do all it can to keep them. “We’re double the size we were five years ago and we’re growing very fast, and that creates a demand for talent,” says Youden. The company was founded on a philosophy to employ the best and brightest people, and that philosophy still guides the firm. One thing he has noticed is that young employees just starting their careers have learned about sustainability at school and college and are taking this into account when making employment decisions. “So we’re very aware that if we’re being evaluated on that front we need to be a good place to come to work.” As baby boomers retire, there is a people shortage coming, he adds, “so if you can show people that the environment is important in how you run your business then you have a better opportunity JacquesWhitford