Building healthy communities, environmental stewardship, and digital inclusion are keys for building back stronger.
Today, measuring the success of a company isn’t just based on profits and market share. The measure also includes how the company has responded to the need to be a good corporate citizen — one that has had a positive impact on the environment and the communities it serves. Over the last 64 years, Cogeco has clearly demonstrated its commitment to that goal.
Cogeco is a growing competitive force in the North American telecommunications and media sector with a legacy of over 60 years. It has invested billions of dollars in building, expanding, and continuously improving its broadband and radio station networks. It serves customers locally in more than 1,000 communities in Canada and the U.S. It’s the only broadband services company with a significant presence in both countries.
Today, Cogeco is the second-largest cable operator in Ontario and Quebec and the ninth-largest cable operator in the U.S. It’s also Quebec’s largest radio broadcaster and operates the most listened-to radio station in Canada. As a result of its major investments in digital infrastructure, its dedication to small cities and rural areas, and the employment of over 4,300 locally- based employees, Cogeco is a key contributor to the growth of local economies.
As one of Burlington’s largest employers, Cogeco is a key member of our business community and has been a valued contributor to our local economy and connectivity for more than 30 years. With over 1000 employees and 100,000 square feet in office and retail space in Burlington, Cogeco has created significant employment opportunities for our local workforce. I look forward to their continued presence in Burlington and their ongoing contribution to our future economy, digital infrastructure and community engagement — Marianne Meed Ward, Mayor of Burlington
A long-standing tradition of responsible corporate citizenship
Social engagement is part of Cogeco’s DNA, as demonstrated by its strong philanthropic commitment through the support of more than 700 local organizations. These efforts are derived from the belief that corporations must lead by example and be models of responsible corporate citizenship. It was a long-standing principle of Cogeco founder Henri Audet since 1957. Part of the company’s focus is to support and promote social inclusion in our society.
Today, as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the goal is to build back better and to focus on equitable growth, which means aiming for a greener and more inclusive economy. That’s the big-picture view, but when you break it down, those efforts can be grouped into three key categories — climate action, digital inclusion, and community involvement. Cogeco has identified these three key imperatives and is addressing each of them with robust and focused initiatives that make a difference in local communities.
Climate action must be a top priority for all industries. In 2021, Cogeco became the first telecommunications company in Canada to gain approval from the prestigious Science Based Targets initiative for its aggressive new greenhouse gas emissions reduction target. In signing the Business Ambition for 1.5°C commitment led by the UN Global Compact, Cogeco also joined the global corporate leaders representing more than $3.6 trillion in market capitalization. Recent recognitions include being ranked on Corporate Knights’ list of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations for the second year in a row and receiving a 2020 Climate Change score of A- from CDP, putting Cogeco in the leadership band for implementing best practices in measuring, understanding, and addressing corporate climate impacts.
Digital inclusion’s far-reaching impact
The importance of digital access to economic development is undeniable. Studies show that digital access promotes growth in overall employment and average wages. According to an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development study carried out in 2019, a 10 percent increase in internet connectivity represents a 1.4 percent increase in GDP. We see it every day — connectivity is crucial to business development, productivity, and daily operations from teleworking, and e-learning to telemedicine.
The findings underscore the need for digital inclusion to close the divide between large cities and smaller regions. An estimated 86 percent of Canadian households have access to speeds of 50 Mbps, yet this rate is 41 percent in rural areas. Year after year, Cogeco continues to grow its footprint through network investments and targeted acquisitions in order to reduce this digital divide. Accelerating major investments in digital infrastructure for high-speed internet access is essential for economic recovery and Canada’s overall positioning in the digital economy. Cogeco announced a commitment in 2019 to invest $1 billion over four years. It’s working in collaboration with municipalities to respond to the connectivity needs of their communities.
But digital inclusion isn’t just a technology issue. Financial constraints drive inequalities in access to information and services. This has inspired Cogeco’s annual participation in the Computers for Excellence programs, which are designed to refurbish used desktops and laptops for distribution to young students. Cogeco is also active in the Connecting Families program in partnership with the federal government, which offers internet services at reduced rates to eligible low-income families located in the company’s network coverage area.
Community involvement in a meaningful way
Strong communities are the foundation of Canada. To support them, Cogeco not only strives to address their connectivity needs, it also invests in their social and cultural lives. Last year alone, it has devoted more than $13 million in cash donations and over 100 hours of airtime on its radio stations. It received a Caring Company certification from Imagine Canada in 2020 in recognition of exemplary leadership in community investment and social responsibility.
Cogeco’s leadership continues. On September 25, it will hold its first Cogeco Community Involvement Day, a company-wide employee initiative devoted to working together on advancing a cause to support local communities. This year’s theme, Planting Roots in Our Communities, will include tree-planting events across regions in Ontario, Quebec, and several states in the U.S. that Cogeco and its subsidiaries serve. The focus was chosen based on employee surveys conducted.
The tree-planting activities highlight two key pillars of Cogeco’s Corporate Social Responsibility program — to take part in developing its communities and to manage its environmental footprint. Good corporate citizenship remains front and centre of Cogeco’s guiding principles.