Giving youth-driven causes the green light

At Definity, we tend to pay close attention whenever an intern says, “I have an idea.” The reason for this is simple: lightbulb moments from our co-op students and young team members have a way of turning into something wonderful.

Take a flowerbed brimming with colour and buzzing with bees, for example, the result of an idea that bloomed into fruition when Lina Wilson, our first Sustainability intern, recently asked, “Hey, why don’t we plant a pollinator garden?” Unsurprisingly, Brendan Seale, Assistant Vice-President and Head of Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) at Definity, was all in.

“When Lina came up with that suggestion,” Brendan recalls, “it dovetailed perfectly with our partnership with Green Communities Canada and our recent $500,000 donation in support of the Living Cities Canada Fund. What better place to demonstrate our commitment to green infrastructure than right here at our Waterloo Head Office?” Accordingly — and in no time — #TeamDefinity was on site with GCC and its local affiliate, Reep Green Solutions, bedding out plants known for their water absorption, cooling properties, and habitat benefits to birds, bees, butterflies, and bugs.

It's the kind of development that fits in well with Definity’s purpose of building a better world by helping our clients and communities adapt and thrive. In support of that purpose, our ESG programs range from diversity and inclusion and employee engagement to charitable giving and environmental advocacy. Definity provided $2.8 million in community investments in 2022 alone, including $640,000 in support for climate resilience and emergency preparedness.

“As an insurance company, we’re just as keen to be proactive to opportunities as reactive to risks,” Brendan points out. To that end, supporting youth-driven environmentalism just makes sense. Among these partnerships is our support of Learning for a Sustainable Future, an organization that supplies resources for Grades K to 12 to participate in meaningful sustainability initiatives across Canada. Every year, their efforts result in hundreds of trees being planted, thousands of kilograms of waste diverted, swimming pools of water conserved, and the equivalent of many months’ worth of electricity use eliminated.

Similarly, Definity supports GreenLearning’s Flood:ED program, where young people study the effects of overland water firsthand, learning how to manage its impact and sharing their research results. By investigating the science behind flooding and then looking at practical solutions, they’re equipping themselves, and others, to take information from theory to reality.

Supporting organizations like GreenLearning is a natural fit for Definity, especially given that, as Brendan points out, “information and readiness are cornerstones for better outcomes.” Yet another upshot of programs like these comes from knowledge transfer, since students talk about what they’ve learned at the dinner table and, by extension, help their families to be prepared, too.

From seemingly small initiatives like nurturing pollinators to multiyear, multimillion-dollar projects like pursuing net-zero emissions, Definity’s integration of sustainability throughout our operations — and beyond — is always advancing. “When it comes to society’s biggest challenges, large corporations are too often part of the problem,” Brendan says,” At Definity, our focus is on being part of the solution.”

On his in-office days, Brendan often eats lunch at the picnic tables beside the pollinator gardens. “It’s a reminder to be hopeful about the future,” he reflects. “Today’s youth isn’t settling for ‘what ifs’ — they’re getting things done and creating real change.”

And what an honour it is to support that.

The buzz around Definity is that our co-op students and interns are a great source of ideas. So, when our younger team members share lightbulb moments, we listen. And when an idea perfectly complements our sustainability efforts, we act.