PPB June 2022

bit right now. But I would say sustainability is a way to start to regain and rebuild our reputation as a viable and important part of a marketing strategy. As we build credibility, as people see that the product is well-made, adds value to campaigns and isn’t destined for the landfill, our industry as a whole will be lifted up.” Secondly, there’s our need for digital transformation. “Sustainability is where a lot of innovation is happening. There is an enormous amount of innovation happening in chemical management, textiles, but most importantly, technology. Sustainability is driving systems for traceability, so you can follow the lifecycle of a product all by scanning a barcode. “That’s incredible technology, and a lot of that innovation is happening through the lens of sustainability. That’s a bandwagon we want to get on. That’s the face we want to show the world—that we are progressive, innovative and sustainable as an industry.” In 2010, Fairware became a Certified B Corp, one of the first in Canada. The company is also a Certified B Corp in the U.S. “It’s a third-party framework and certification of businesses trying to drive change using their business model. It’s businesses trying to do good. It’s a thirdparty assessment to say you’re actually walking the talk. Your company is doing what you say you’re doing.” To remain leaders in sustainability, Fairware relies on its partnerships. “We are constantly looking at the companies we admire,” Taschereau says. “We work with some of the most amazing clients in the world. We have the opportunity to talk to brands like Ben & Jerry’s or Patagonia about what they’re working on and how our merchandise can help them drive their impact agenda. So, we are constantly learning from and being inspired by them. Our clients hold us accountable and teach us a lot.” For businesses looking to drive change, Taschereau says thinking of potential impact is critical. “Making decisions where you think about the impact on your team, community or the supply chain is what makes a business a force for good,” she says. “You are driving change in everything you do. You are showing people that you can run a profitable company and still care about community, employees or supply chain. For us, it’s really about setting an example.” Another way Fairware sets an example is by lending its voice. “We do advocacy on the issues that are important to us. It’s one thing for us to be a living-wage employer, but for Fairware, we’ll also go on record encouraging our province to raise minimum wage. We are actually using our voice politically as business leaders to try and drive change more systemically.” Taschereau hopes the industry will continue to evolve with sustainability, CSR and digital transformation. “CSR and sustainability are what is going to put us on the map,” Taschereau says. “It’s what every brand is doing right now, and if we’re not doing it, it’s going to be hard for us enable the marketing campaigns of the world’s greatest brands. “Whether it’s materials or diversity, these are all important issues to the brands that are running our economies, and our industry lifts those brands up through marketing merchandise. If we don’t understand sustainability, we’ll be left behind. They will not choose our medium. They’ll choose something else if we can’t line up with what they’re trying to achieve.” The evolution of client demands for CSR and sustainability, as well as the need for digital transformation all made the timing right for Taschereau to challenge for a seat on the PPAI Board of Directors in last year’s election. She says, “It’s an incredible moment in time to build an Association that is resilient, nimble and ready for what the future holds.” Her seat on the board runs until 2026. Given her background running amid-size distributor, Taschereau brings the perspective of most industry companies with her to the PPAI boardroom. “If I look back onmy time as a boardmember, I’ll be happy if I’ve shaped three outcomes. The first is ensuring the tools and strategies we build are right-sized for smaller suppliers and distributors—they’re the lifeblood of our industry and it’s critical that we all succeed, not just the larger players. “Second, I hope we have continued the work the Association has done to elevate the reputation and profile of our medium in the larger marketing landscape. Finally, I’ll be thrilled if our industry has a roadmap for corporate social responsibility that our members have embraced and are acting on.” Valdez is an associate editor at PPAI. “That’s incredible technology, and a lot of that innovation is happening through the lens of sustainability. That’s a bandwagon wewant to get on. That’s the facewe want to show the world—that we are progressive, innovative and sustainable as an industry.” –Denise Taschereau | JUNE 2022 | 33 GROW