Don’t get Darcy Rezac started, unless you have a bit of time. As the Managing Director of the Vancouver Board of Trade, he takes his job, his vocation really, very seriously. The issues he faces on a daily basis are not the kinds of issues that can be dealt with in a sound bite or two.
He leans forward in his chair and says, “The whole ‘shareholder first’ approach is dead. These tougher economic times prove that. Businesses cannot succeed without being vital community members.” What does that mean, exactly? The mantra at the Board of Trade is “Connecting for Good,” which translates literally into the Board making community engagement possible, even easy, by providing business people the opportunity to meet and mingle.
“I call it ‘engaged corporate citizenship,’” Rezac says. “Our role here is to facilitate that. Vancouver, and the entire region, has a huge number of companies and businesses that do a great job of being directly and positively involved in their community. YVR, RBC, VanCity, HSBC, Coast Capital, I could go on and on. And the individuals who have made a serious commitment to their community, Joe Segal comes to mind of course, but Lorne Segal, Graham McLachlan, David Poole, Dennis Skulsky, Victor Chan…I can’t possibly name them all. Still, there is always work to be done to have each and every business understand they have a place in the community, and a role that extends beyond their bottom line.”
Mr. Rezac’s passion for this is abundantly clear. It all harkens back to earlier times, when in fact it was possible for a community (a small community, it is true) to be aware of all that surrounds it. For a business to be aware that it is part of a whole, and to look out for that whole, is a vital part of its survival, and the survival of the community it belongs to. So, in a way, Mr. Rezac’s role is to make this community more intimately aware of itself. Acquainting an insurance agency president with a pet store owner might seem unlikely, but if they both consider supporting the local under-18 girls’ softball team, they will have a mutual frame of reference. At a recent Board of Trade gathering, over four thousand business cards were exchanged. Now that is grass roots connecting. After all, the decision to become responsible corporate citizens comes a lot easier when you know your neighbours.