‘ESG’ means ‘environment, social, governance,’ referring to how a company operates in each of these spaces. Increasingly, investors are using ESG parameters to assess a company’s performance to determine whether to invest.
Many investors – and the public in general – focus on the environmental aspects of a company’s operation. But the ‘S’ – social – is equally important.
The social component of ESG covers how companies interact with their employee – such as health and safety track record, diversity, equity and inclusion, labour relations – and how companies interact with the communities where they operate, which can include community outreach and engagement, even supply chain issues like whether a supplier’s operations align with the company’s environmental and ethical standards.
The advantages of diversity and inclusion
‘Diversity and inclusion’ refers to the similarities and differences among employees, such as age, ethnicity and cultural background, physical and mental abilities, religion, gender, and sexual orientation.
Workforce diversity enables organizations to benefit from many viewpoints, skills and experiences, which contributes to a richer working environment and better decision-making. Within the oil and natural gas industry, companies strive to create a work environment that encourages diversity and is free of barriers to employment, training, advancement, or other aspects of working in the sector.
In addition, the industry is focused on creating work environments that support and develop all employees, to foster a more effective workplace and better business outcomes.
Industry in action
Canadian oil and natural gas producers are making significant efforts in implementing programs to facilitate an inclusive workforce, increasing gender representation, expanding Indigenous inclusion, recognizing and encouraging employee diversity, and advancing wage parity. Company-specific internal programs such as ethics and diversity training, inclusive hiring practices, internal networks / councils and more are key to facilitating the social aspects of a company’s workplace and ESG performance.
One area of focus for many oil and natural gas producers is engagement with Indigenous communities, which is helping to increase Indigenous employment in the industry and also brings traditional knowledge and other skills and perspectives to the table. From 2009 to 2019, overall workforce participation by Indigenous employees in Canada’s energy industry increased by 24%. (Source: CAPP Diversity and Inclusion ESG report)
Ovintiv’s commitment to an inclusive culture that embraces diversity of thought, background and experience was reinforced in 2021 through a renewed social commitment framework, to create a company where everyone is welcome and has the same opportunity. To that end, Ovintiv assembled an internal Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Working Group to provide a sounding board for initiatives, test communications and act as an incubator of ideas. Ovintiv also formed an employee resource group, Leveraging Inclusion, Networking and Knowledge (LINK) to provide opportunities for all employees to engage, collaborate, learn and grow, and to foster an environment where diverse perspectives are celebrated. (Source: 2021 sustainability report)
At Shell, the proportion of women in senior leadership positions at the end of 2020 was 27.8%, an increase of 14 percentage points compared with 2019. Shell is working to achieve 30% representation of women in senior leadership positions by the end of 2021, 35% by 2025 and 40% by 2030. (Source: 2021 sustainability report)
Imperial Oil maintains a supportive work environment through a range of development and networking programs. Employee resource groups are open to all employees. Some employee-led resource groups include:
- Asian Connection for Excellence (ACE)
- Black Employee Success Team (BEST)
- Indigenous Network
- Global Organization for the Advancement of Latinos (GOAL);
- Women’s Interest Network (WIN);
- People for Respect, Inclusion and Diversity of Employees (PRIDE)
(Source: 2020 Sustainability Report)
Birchcliff Energy supports lifelong health and wellness of employees and their families through health and educational programs, by promoting workplace equality and inclusion, maintaining and promoting a culture of growth, supporting the financial health of employees, fostering a work environment full of innovation, good communication, respect and work-life balance. Among the many specific initiatives is the company’s Mentorship Program, launched in 2019 to build a strong corporate culture through the exchange of skills, knowledge and experience. Through the program, senior employees, managers and executives are matched with junior employees to continuously improve cross-discipline knowledge transfer. (Source: 2021 sustainability report)
Tourmaline Oil supports and engages employees in a variety of ways:
- Increased education and training per employee by more than 300% since 2017.
- Fostering an inclusive and diverse culture, ensuring equal opportunity.
- Hiring talented new graduates to ensure the employee base is continually regenerating.
- Mentoring and developing younger employees.
- Encouraging employees to present and share their knowledge with groups such as universities and other stakeholders.
(Source: 2021 Sustainability Report)
The bottom line
Policies related to diversity and inclusion are being advanced by a majority of oil and natural gas companies as demonstrated in individual ESG reports and updates. Many companies have internal objectives and metrics related to representation of various groups in the workforce.
Canadian oil and natural gas companies strive to build an inclusive workforce that fully represents the diversity of the communities, regions, and provinces where they operate. Through a proactive and engaged approach to diversity and inclusion, Canadian energy companies are working to deliver sustainable and reliable energy solutions. The world’s oil and natural gas should come from a nation that excels in all aspects of ESG performance: Canada.
That’s Canadian Energy in Action.