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SBBC Application

Cowichan Women Against Violence Society is a semi-finalist in the Small Business BC Awards. The next stage is to be judged on this application. We'll find out if we make the quarter finals by the end of January.

Best Community Impact: Top 10 Semi-Finalist Application Questions

Describe specific activities your business engages in that have a positive impact in your community. Maximum 150 words.

Cowichan Women Against Violence (CWAV) Society has been serving the Cowichan Valley for 35 years. Our transition house provides up to 30 days of shelter for women and children at risk of immediate abuse. We support victims of domestic and sexual violence as they deal with their trauma and as they navigate the court system. We offer counselling to women who have experienced violence and children who have witnessed abuse and we have a four month pre-employment program to assist women gain the esteem they need to enter the workforce. Each year CWAV Society hosts several events that raise awareness of issues related to violence against women and that invite the community to help reduce gender-based violence in the Cowichan Valley. These events coincide with Prevention of Violence Against Women Week and 16 Days of Activism to prevent gender-based violence. Our AGM is a community picnic open to everyone.

Describe community activities that you have done in the past, and the activities you have planned for the future. Maximum 150 words.

CWAV Society brought two international initiatives to the Cowichan Valley. First is the Clothesline Project where community members impacted by violence against women paint slogans on t-shirts to highlight the issue and commit to reducing violence. The t-shirts have been hung in malls, at City Hall, at the library and at the local university campus. Second is the 16-Days of Activism to Prevent Gender-based Violence, an initiative of Rutgers University that occurs between November 25th and December 10th. We hosted a community engagement workshop and annually organize the December 6th Vigil of Remembrance. During 2016, our anniversary year, we are planning five signature events: a workshop on preventing violence against aboriginal women, our AGM, a Gala raising money for housing for women, a workshop on violence toward gender variant people and the December 6th memorial. We are also planning a professional development workshop on safety planning. 

Identify how you have invested or reinvested in your community. For example, volunteerism, philanthropy, secondment of staff, responsible hiring practices and/or contributions to solutions to local problems. Maximum 150 words.

CWAV Society has shown leadership in bringing issues related to safety for women, youth and children to the regional and local government level. Our community based research and community development work has informed the local municipalities about physical barriers to safety and strategies for addressing deficiencies. Every year we track the number of volunteer hours that support our work. In the 2014-15 fiscal year, that amounted to 2,828 hours, an estimated value of $53,732 at $19/hour. Our staff and board are involved as volunteers in local community planning for several events including One Billion Rising and International Women’s Day. We have worked collaboratively with many other agencies on projects both as the lead organization and, by undertaking specific parts of the project where our expertise can help the other agency complete the project. We have worked with business, academic and other non-profits in these collaborations. 

How do you measure the social, environmental and financial (triple bottom line) outcomes of your business? Provide specific examples. For example, measurements can include an accountability report, a dashboard of measures and/or the business goals adopted by the CEO. Maximum 150 words.

Annually, we provide a triple-bottom line report to our members and the community in our annual report. The Society has applied rigorous accounting practices to all programs and projects. We are audited annually against generally accepted accounting practices for non-profits. We produce quarterly and annual reports for all funders against the criteria set by them which provides assurance that our work complies with all contractual agreements. In our annual report, we measure our effectiveness referencing: board oversight including numbers of motions approved; numbers of referrals and variance from previous year; number of clients served, numbers not served and reasons for difference; those who became sustainably employed as a result of our pre-employment program; our social action activities; and a recognition of donors and funders. We monitor our environmental impact internally and reduce waste each year. Our 2014 Annual Report contained a list of our environmental initiatives.

Address the social, environmental, and financial sustainability of your business outcomes. For example, if your business has harmful environmental outputs, how do you mitigate or offset them? Maximum 150 words.

CWAV has $150,000 in restricted accounts and we own our transition house, assessed at approximately $350,000. These assets allow us to maintain our house, to anticipate funding liabilities and to remain financially viable should we have to weather unexpected financial problems. Our social outcomes come through our work with clients and residents of the transition house and through our community outreach that has made the issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, gender-based violence and community safety a shared community responsibility. We balance the need to respond to our clients with the reality that reducing violence against women and gender-based violence requires societal change. Our primary work is individual but we take seriously our community responsibility to increase safety and reduce violence. Environmentally, we have reduced waste through composting and recycling. We work locally with Cowichan Re-cyclists who pick up compostables and recycling materials by bike. Our events are zero waste. 

How do you incorporate diversity and inclusion in your business, including any internal HR policies or practices related to hiring or sourcing? For example, statements on proactive hiring, shareholder diversity and/or alternative ownership structures.Maximum 150 words. 

Our mandate is to serve women who are or have experienced violence and children and youth who have witnessed abuse. We have an exemption that allows gender-based hiring and our staff and board are exclusively female. We do have male youth facilitators in our Teen Healthy Relations project and a number of male volunteers. Our hiring policies are based in inclusion of diversity in sexual orientation, race and ethnicity. Our HR policies support the career advancement of employees by having internal job postings as a first step in a hiring process. Applicants for our externally advertised positions are primarily from Vancouver Island but we accept applications from anywhere. Employees tend to stay with the organization. We pay competitive wages with our counterparts in the sector and we have a comprehensive benefits plan. We encourage professional development including doing advanced studies that might lead qualifications suitable to employment elsewhere. 

Provide any closing statements that might be useful to the judges. Answers must be text only and not include links. Maximum 150 words.

As a non-profit with relatively stable but ‘always-subject-to-change’ funding, CWAV Society would benefit greatly from the One-Year All-Access Pass to Small Business BC seminars and the “Ask an Expert” services that are awarded to the winner of each category. We are exploring developing a housing project and a number of the experts listed would be useful in helping us analyze the project. In addition, we would like the opportunity to consult an HR Professional around some of our personnel policies. Several of the seminars would also be helpful especially ones related to financial management and reporting and marketing and communications.


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