Leadership in Action > Being a purpose-driven brand

How Canada Goose CEO Dani Reiss made purpose and authenticity the cornerstone of his business’ digital success and global expansion.

Today, societies demand greater responsibility from the organizations they work for, buy from and invest in—and that’s driving a lasting shift in what defines long-term value. They want businesses to express their brand purpose at every level, from the business strategy and workplace culture to the consumer experience and community investment.

“This year’s EY Future Consumer Index found the pandemic caused consumers to double down on the importance of long-term value and ESG,” says Jad Shimaly, chairman and CEO of EY Canada. Commitment to a strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) platform is essential to success.

Consider Canada Goose. The fashion brand offers a prime example of navigating this increasingly digital, increasingly human era. Since CEO Dani Reiss took the helm two decades ago, the company has grown from a local apparel startup in Canada to a globally recognized, direct-to-consumer brand. And its stock has nearly tripled since its 2017 initial public offering.

Reiss made ESG a core element of his strategy, and has applied it not only to the outerwear manufacturer’s brand, but also to its digital transformation, direct-to-consumer pivot and expansion into global markets. Under Reiss’s leadership, the company committed to manufacturing exclusively in Canada, and has sourced materials in more sustainable ways, partnering with environmental groups such as Polar Bears International. The platform is a perfect fit for Canada Goose—a Canadian company producing cold-weather clothing and dedicated to protecting the frozen North from the threat of climate change. The company also initiated Project Atigi, an entrepreneurial partnership with Inuit designers that celebrates their expertise and craftsmanship in a unique parka collection, with proceeds from sales going to Inuit communities.

Canada Goose has really embraced its purpose: to keep the planet cold and people warm

“We know the apparel industry is one of the most polluting industries on the planet,” Reiss says. “We want to help change that. I think companies that don’t have that same mentality aren’t going to survive the next few decades. Consumers these days want to buy products from companies that are good for the planet. It’s fundamental.”


“Canada Goose has really embraced its purpose: to keep the planet cold and people warm,” Shimaly says. “Their commitment to the environment is deeply rooted in who they are, the products they develop, and how they operate in the communities they work in.”


The company embraced its purpose at the outset of the pandemic and stepped up to address gaps and new market challenges by converting Canada Goose’s manufacturing facilities to prepare personal protective equipment for Canadian front-line workers.


Reiss brought the company’s purpose to the forefront and put the right systems in place to make positive contributions to society, while also building their brand awareness and helping them achieve trust as an industry leader.


Digital transformation has had a further benefit in enabling the company to deepen an authentic expression of purpose, Shimaly says. “It increases the level of engagement companies have with all their stakeholders, including employees, consumers and suppliers.”


Digitalization and direct-to-consumer sales are revolutionizing business around the globe, forcing firms to reimagine their organizational structure, workforce and relationship with consumers. Amid those changes, it may be easy to lose sight of the human element. “Yes, this is the digital era,” says Kim Billeter, People Advisory Services leader for EY Americas. “But the human is still at the core.”


“Now is the time to take that ESG-focused approach,” Billeter says. “The key is consistency and authenticity around your message. That’s how you get what you want out of your transformation.”

This is part of Leadership in Action — a master class series featuring prominent CEOs highlighting the decisive moment where bold decision-making has made a material impact on their company and career.

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