Neptune Terminals: Social Leadership on the Waterfront

Last month, the United Way of the Lower Mainland (UWLM) gathered a group of community investment practitioners from the Vancouver area to a day-long conference to discuss trends, best practices, challenges and possible solutions in hopes of advancing social leadership in more companies and accelerating social impact in our region.

Neptune Terminals President, Jim Belsheim, was one of the keynote speakers, alongside companies like Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), Telus and VanCity – all sharing their own stories to help those in attendance develop ideas for enhancing the social purpose of their companies.

Hearing all these business leaders speak, it was evident that their companies are an integral part of society. They want to play a meaningful role in shaping their social environment for the betterment of everyone in the communities where they do business.

Belsheim spoke about Neptune's community investment program, including how the company is driven by its values to continuously improve and to be an excellent neighbor in its North Vancouver community.

Neptune's long-term focus on making North Van a strong, healthy place for everyone who lives and works there leads the company to seek out the gaps in the community, and respond with solutions that include both funding and the engagement of its people. "Companies like ours are an important part of the fabric of a community. We have different skills and resources to offer," said Belsheim.

He also talked about Neptune's experience with the United Way, which he described as a social compass. Neptune relies on UWLM for research to identify the most pressing social issues facing its community, and the best solutions for addressing those issues. That has led the company to prioritize support for programs seniors struggling with isolation, and youth and children at risk, including those with learning disabilities.

Among Neptune's many community partners are organizations like North Shore Neighbourhood House, the Learning Disabilities Association (North Shore), St. John Ambulance Therapy Dogs and the Seniors' One Stop program at North Shore Community Resources.

Neptune is also part of the Waterfront United campaign for the United Way. The multi-year partnership is a collaboration between seven unions, 11 companies and more than 6000 people with two things in common: they all make their living on the BC waterfront, and want to give back to support children and seniors in the communities where they work.

"We're motivated by our desire to build a better North Shore community," said Belsheim. "That drives all aspects of our business and is embraced by all our employees. We've been operating in North Van for over 45 years, and we plan to be there for at least 45 more."

Story contributed by Lisa Dooling, Director of Community & Stakeholder Engagement | Neptune Bulk Terminals (Canada) Ltd.

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