Canon Canada: Branch Out: Annual Employee Volunteer Program

It may not be what first comes to mind when you think of Canon Canada, but since 2014, Canon Canada’s employees have contributed more than 8,000 hours of volunteer service, planted more than 33,000 trees, removed 92,000 cubic feet of invasive plant species and restored 7,000 square feet of shorelines across 45 Canadian communities.

The employees have done all this through Canon Canada’s Branch Out program, a nationwide annual environmental initiative that aims to strengthen relationships among employees and local communities, while addressing environmental concerns such as shoreline degradation, habitat loss and loss of biodiversity.

The Branch Out volunteer work is tailored to local priorities and organized in conjunction with local conservation authorities and non-profit environmental organizations across the country. Among these have been the Hamilton Conservation Authority, the Toronto Region Conservation Authority, Trout Unlimited Canada and the Credit Valley Conservation Authority, all of whom have assisted not only with on-site coordination and educational activities, but with material supplies, gloves and shovels etc, the sort of equipment that is needed for the kind of muck-in, no-nonsense but often good fun effort the teams put in.

            The Branch Out program is a great example of Canon’s corporate philosophy, Kyosei – “all people living and working together for the common good” – in action and speaks to the company’s Environmental Charter, in particular, their commitment to increase the environmental awareness of employees and encourage environmental protection initiatives on an individual level.

In its inaugural year, the goal for Branch Out was to recharge and build relationships among their employees, and to increase employees’ involvement with their local communities, all while addressing environmental concerns. Early on, Branch Out focused on tree planting to address canopy loss from various natural disasters. The scope of the program later expanded to include a more diverse mix of activities in order to address a wider array of environmental concerns. These days, Branch Out volunteers tackle a wide range of issues including countering habitat loss by building pollinator boxes and more.

In discussing their approach for 2019, Branch Out organizers recognized that all of their Canadian facilities are located on or near important watersheds. Since watersheds are facing threats from climate change, urbanization, and pollution, the decision was made to guide this year’s employee volunteer efforts toward the protection and conservation of freshwater systems. Some examples of the activities planned and carried out include shoreline habitat restoration, shoreline clean-ups, and invertebrate monitoring.

The Branch Out program allows employees to volunteer at multiple environmental events across the country, multiple times throughout the year, showing Canon’s commitment to having a sustainable impact in the 13 communities in and around Canon offices. By investing time from their work schedules, Canon Canada’s employees do their part to help ensure a healthy environment for current and future generations.

These efforts are not some forgettable, manufactured team building exercise, held in a dreary convention centre off the highway. This is real world. It’s really helping and Branch Out is a program that really needs some off-shoots.