Giving back has deep roots at Mawer Investment Management Ltd., beginning with founder Chuck Mawer, who made it a mantra at the Calgary-based firm. Mawer has since passed, but president and vice-chair Craig Senyk took to heart what Mawer once said to him over lunch when Senyk joined the firm in 1997.
“He said, ‘Craig, always remember that’s my name on the wall,’” recalls Senyk. “‘If you guys always do the right thing, then I never have to worry about my name being up there.’ So that’s the legacy I see myself serving for this organization – reminding everybody to always do the right thing.”
With over 200 charities helped over the past year, the firm supports a wide variety of local and national organizations, spanning education, health, sports and the arts.
“We have three main ways of giving,” explains Senyk. “Since we manage a lot of money for non-profits and foundations across Canada, we give back 10 per cent of our fees to each one. Then there’s our employee program, which is primarily bottom up, and we allocate the remaining budget to charities focused on mental health, financial literacy and food security.
“Ultimately, it’s our community that allows us to be successful as an organization,” says Senyk. “Whether it’s Calgary, Toronto, the U.S. or Singapore – wherever our base of operations is – we try to be active from a community standpoint.”
Hands-on volunteering is a big part of giving back at Mawer. The firm either matches the value of the employee’s time or their monetary contribution to a charity, up to $3,000 annually.
“I took part in Habitat for Humanity last year,” says Senyk. “While I was terrible at trying to build a house, it was a great way to bring different members from across different teams together to volunteer in the community.”
Emma Cooper-Key, a marketing analyst who helps develop the firm’s strategy for donations and sponsorships, affirms that giving has long been part of the culture.
“Many initiatives started because employees saw a need and ran with it,” says Cooper-Key. “We’re not mandated to do this as part of our job or because a manager expects it. For example, there’s a team of people who are keen to raise money every November for the Movember cause and do a great job rallying support.
“Employees also organize a ‘Thrills and Skills’ auction every year to raise money for the United Way of Calgary. Employees offer their skills up for auction, such as teaching people how to play chess or badminton, and people bid on them. There’s a lot of engagement plus you get to know your colleagues in a new way.”
One that was personally meaningful for Cooper-Key involved a volunteer experience with the Calgary Seniors Society. Employees went shopping for requested items, wrapped the presents and wrote personalized cards before individually dropping off the custom care packages at the seniors’ homes.
“Getting to meet and chat with the senior I was assigned to was truly the highlight,” says Cooper-Key. “It was a simple interaction, but very rewarding. Afterwards, all the employees who participated met up to share our stories.”
Cooper-Key says the feedback Mawer gets from the community is also very rewarding.
“We’ve developed a reputation for being quietly and consistently present,” says Cooper-Key. “In some cases, where we’ve given an unrestricted donation that’s not necessarily allocated to a specific initiative, what we’ve heard back is that they’re really humbled and encouraged by our trust in their management. That was really nice to hear.”
More from Canada’s Top Small and Medium-Sized Employers
Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.