Mills’ social responsibility management practices are based on the principle that businesses have an important role to play in addressing the social interests and sustainable development goals of their community. Mills, established in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, embraces its community leadership and gives back by actively engaging with social enterprises, unique hiring practices, and through sponsorships and donations to initiatives, foundations, and charities that aim to instill real and permanent improvements to the lives of disadvantaged community residents.
As a result of its social responsibility and community engagement initiatives, along with its environmental sustainability efforts, Mills was the recipient of the 2014 Better Business Bureau Community Award, 2012 Better Business Bureau Green Award, selected as the keystone provider of office supplies for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and received the 2005 Ethics in Action award for Overall Leadership (Small-Medium-Enterprise).
Mills is a founding partner and sponsor of H.A.V.E Café (Hope, Action, Values, Ethics), a not for profit, a social enterprise operating as a culinary training society and restaurant in the Downtown Eastside. Under the leadership of Certified Chef de Cuisine Amber Anderson, H.A.V.E provides occupational and life skills training to residents of the community that have been excluded from meaningful employment due to poverty, homelessness, addiction, or mental and physical disabilities. In addition to occupational training, students in the eight-week program receive meals, Food Safe certification, and employment counselling as support to successfully transition into the local workforce.
To date, over 1,000 students have enrolled in the program with nearly 80% successfully finding employment. Mills has donated significant funds, time, services, marketing, and fundraising support to ensure that H.A.V.E Café continues to help those who need it most.
In 2014, Mills launched a company-wide volunteer program with its community partner, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Mills’ staff and their families volunteered on a monthly basis sorting donations and creating care packages for those that need it most. Since Mills is very active in the B Corp Community, they invite all its partners to participate with four B Corporations joining Mills employees.
Through a partnership with the Fast Track for Employment (FTE), Mills hired residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and provided training, employment, and benefits to at-risk youth and hard-to-employ community residents. In the Greater Vancouver Region, Mills worked closely with the following agencies to provide employment to a variety of individuals that may be experiencing barriers to employment:
- PLEA Community Services – PLEA’s vision is a world where everyone has the opportunity for a good life, and where everyone counts. To fulfill this vision, PLEA delivers unique services, tailored to individual strengths and needs, to children, youth, adults, and families facing significant challenges so that they may live fulfilling lives within their communities. Through this program Mills employs youth ages 15-19 to help to improve their educational and employment prospects through mentoring and job experience programs.
- Drive Youth Employment Services – Drive Youth Employment Services (DYES) is Frog Hollow’s youth satellite on Commercial Drive. Operating under the Work BC model, Drive supports approximately 500 youth ages 16-30 each month. Free and confidential services include: 1:1 case management, resource room services, professional counseling, referrals to community programs, training opportunities, paid placements, volunteer opportunities, job development, and financial assistance.
From this experience, Mills continues to hire individuals with barriers to employment.
Mills was an active supporter of Dress for Success for over 15 years. Dress for Success Vancouver is a local not-for-profit affiliate of Dress for Success Worldwide that provides disadvantaged women with professional attire, confidence, career development and a network of support when entering the workforce to help them thrive in work and life.
Sponsorships & Donations
Mills is proud to be an active supporter of various social initiatives, foundations, and charities. We have sponsored and made donations to social initiatives and DTES organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs of Lower Mainland, Phoenix Society, Kindale Developmental Association, Dress for Success, Building Opportunities with Business, Hope in Shadows, The Common Thread, WISH Women’s Shelter, Greater Vancouver Food Bank, EMBERS, Raincity Housing, Lookout Emergency Aid Society, Free Geek, and The Vivian House. In addition, we have donated thousands of dollars worth of gently used office supply products and PPE products to inner-city non-profit organizations.
Mills has donated funds and sponsored various foundations and charities. These include the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Breast Cancer Foundation, Canadian Cancer Society, BC Children’s Hospital, Literacy BC, Union Gospel Mission, Looking Glass Foundation, Neil Squire Society, and The Salvation Army. We continue to engage with community organizations determined to generate opportunities to deliver profound positive impact, raise people’s quality of life, and help develop basic living standards through aid and employment opportunities.
At Mills, we are committed to giving back to our community and making a difference. Through our ongoing dedication and support, we have accumulated a significant financial contribution towards various charitable causes. From 2020-2022, we have donated over $48,600 to organizations working tirelessly to address pressing social issues.