Creator of new online work/life balance resource honoured

Balancing work and family responsibilities is increasingly challenging for workers. That’s why Lucie Chagnon started “Commodus,” the first online provider of work-life-balance services, Commodus brings a new solution to helping employees manage their personal responsibilities. By offering a wide range of ethical services that employees can access easily through the web, Commodus enables employers to help employees address their personal needs in a way that does not interfere with company performance.

As a result, Chagnon was selected from more than 60 candidate applications that Ashoka Canada received this year. Chagnon shared the honour with Quebec filmmaker Manon Barbeau. Both from Montreal, Manon Barbeau and Lucie Chagnon are the newly-elected Ashoka Fellows in Canada, joining more than 2,000 fellows in 63 countries.

Ashoka is a global association that identifies and supports the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. Barbeau and Chagnon were elected following a rigorous five-step selection process. Once elected, fellows benefit from being part of the Ashoka Fellowship for life, which includes financial support and an array of professional services, primarily through three strategic partnerships with McKinsey and Company, Hill & Knowlton, and Blakes LLP. Ashoka will provide approximately $300,000 in funding to these two fellows over the next three years.

“Investing in leading social innovators is crucial now more than ever. We must leverage the impact and creativity of Canada’s leading social entrepreneurs and support them in resolving complex social challenges here and globally,” says Celia Cruz, director of Ashoka Canada. “Manon and Lucie have developed innovative projects that impact thousands of people in Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and abroad. They have strong entrepreneurial skills and apply their intellect and creativity to address crucial issues such as aboriginal isolation and stress in the workplace.”

Chagnon’s Commodus allows employees to exchange the points their employers purchase and subsequently have access to a comprehensive range of services including: support to families, children and elders; home services; courier and brokerage services; transportation services; etc. This is a resourceful tool for employers to become sensitized to employees’ needs and the challenges they face such as reduced quality time with family.

The services are mainly provided by not-for-profit organizations or for-profits with a social mission that complies with a high ethical standards agreement. Commodus acts as a broker and retains a percentage of the value of the transactions, creating an economically sustainable model, capable of growing without the need for external funding.

Previously, Chagnon founded Interface, a consulting co-op that helped about 100 community service organizations across Canada.

Manon Barbeau is a well-known filmmaker who has dedicated her career to telling the stories of society’s excluded and marginalized. Barbeau is helping Canadian aboriginal communities by empowering young people to connect and dialogue with their own community as well as indigenous groups globally through the film-making process.

Besides her involvement with aboriginal communities, she delivers conferences on resilience and recovery, as well as on First Nations’ social and historical issues.

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