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IKEA Canada encourages employees to work together as an inclusive business toward its sustainability vision.Provided

Isabelle Brigliadori’s heart soars when she pulls into the IKEA Canada Calgary store’s parking lot, with its super-efficient watering system, and when she passes by customers with purchases of new or used furniture made to the highest environmental standards, often helped by her committed co-workers.

Then she enters the gold standard, energy-efficient building and she gets to work to do even more to further the company’s sustainability vision.

“I learned long ago if you don’t work for a company that inspires you inside, it’s just a job versus a fun place to come every day to work with others,” says Brigliadori, market manager, IKEA Calgary.

“If a company says they’re committed to sustainability, you have to do what you say you’re going to do. IKEA Canada is the first company I’ve worked for that does that 100 per cent of the time.”

A landmark on the home furnishing retail landscape, IKEA Canada has 15 stores that had 26 million customers in 2022, along with another 189 million visiting Ikea.ca. Headquartered in Burlington, Ont., it’s part of the larger IKEA corporate family of companies that operates in 32 countries worldwide.

IKEA’s major sustainability strategy has ambitious targets to meet by 2030. Its three main pillars are healthy and sustainable living, circular and climate positive, and fair and equal. It’s designed to have a big impact on climate change, unsustainable consumption and inequality.

Brigliadori sees the healthy and sustainable living component playing out every day. She says consumers seek out sustainably produced products and appreciate the information IKEA gives them on how their items are manufactured using less water or energy or containing recycled materials. IKEA Canada also provides customers with information on healthy, sustainable food choices and other lifestyle tips so the experience goes beyond a simple store purchase.

Supporting the shift toward a circular business, IKEA Canada has a sell-back program where customers can return their used products for resale for in-store credit. Those items are then sold at reduced prices, increasing affordability. Another program encourages customers to repair their damaged furniture rather than buying a new item.

“We’re assessing all our products and giving them a circularity score to ensure what we bring to the market lives as long as possible and can be passed on or repaired,” says Helene Loberg, country sustainability manager.

“We own our supply chain, so we’re responsible for everything from the very beginning and can make our operations more climate positive and impactful.”

Fairness and equality are also key to IKEA Canada’s strategy, including a commitment to supporting good working conditions in all company operations as well as being an inclusive, diverse and welcoming employer. That’s core to getting employees to buy in to the sustainability vision.

“Our co-workers are very motivated to contribute to the sustainability agenda. Our culture is based on values where we work together as an inclusive business,” says Loberg.

“Every week, co-workers tell me how they feel included and valued at IKEA. That makes so many of us proud to work here.”

IKEA Canada’s sustainability strategy is comprehensive. From big-picture issues such as energy and water reduction to fine details like shifting to selling only rechargeable batteries in stores, the company is working every angle to make an impact.

Brigliadori says IKEA Canada will continue to do more because of its commitment to making the lives of the next generation better.

“The most important people are children because they’re the ones who will have to deal with what we do today,” she says. “Having the vision and commitment to protect this planet on behalf of our future generations is a fantastic way of thinking.”

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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.

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