Investors, communities and stakeholders are pressuring companies of all sizes to heighten their focus and take action on the environmental and social aspects of their performance.
After taking ESG fundamentals for oil and gas producers attendees will be clear about what ESG reporting is, learn the key distinctions between the disclosure frameworks, gain tools to start or advance the ESG conversation at their companies and much more.
Delivered in partnership with JWN Energy Learning, the course is designed to help attendees speak skillfully about ESG to investors, their board and executive team, and other stakeholders. At the end of the course, participants will have a solid grasp on the players in the industry and how they interact in ways that can impact the company, whether it’s private or public.
We sat down with course instructor Rosa Rivero, principal at Responsibility Matters, an advisory firm that helps companies identify the ESG topics that are most relevant to them and improve their credibility through transparent reporting, to discuss the upcoming live course on ESG fundamentals for oil and gas producers on June 11.
Rivero is a recognized leader in the sustainability/ESG space with close to 10 years of experience supporting small and large companies in the energy sector. She has supported companies such as ARC Resources, Baytex Energy, Seven Generations Energy, Cenovus and Suncor on their sustainability journeys.
Why is the timing right for this course?
Rosa Rivero: “ESG was already in an upward trajectory over the last few years, but this year with COVID…it has skyrocketed. It has to do with increased awareness of social issues and environmental issues being at the center of political conversations. It was then compounded by investor attention to ESG issues given the early evidence that the companies that were paying attention to ESG or sustainability were found to be more resilient during this crisis. The companies fared better mostly because they were already paying attention to their people, to their safety, to their supply chain, to cybersecurity, to many different issues that came to the spotlight this year and that other companies weren't paying attention to. So ESG became even more important than it was before. We ended the year with eight Canadian pension funds asking companies to better report on their ESG performance and the Canadian federal government announcing net zero by 2050 targets, so I could not imagine a better time to learn more about this.”
What kind of results have the companies you have worked with achieved?
Rosa Rivero: “Companies have gone from communicating about their environmental performance haphazardly (or not at all) to issuing communications that are clear, cohesive and aligned with investors expectations. After working with us, they get clarity about their most pressing ESG issues and a repeatable robust process to communicate about them. Our publicly traded clients have been able to increase their external ESG ratings through targeted and meaningful ESG disclosure.”
Do you have a specific example?
Rosa Rivero: “One thing we help our clients do is to better tell their company and ESG story and dispel any misconceptions that are out there about them. One time I was calling a few institutional investors on behalf of an oil and gas producer and the investor asked ‘why does the company not talk about tailing ponds since they are an oilsands company?’ and I had to explain that they do not use open pit mining. Explaining that not all oilsands companies do the same work, in a way that is technically accurate but easily understandable, is one of the ways we add value. I often joke that my job is to be a translator between operations/engineering and finance/investor relations.”
Who should attend this course?
Rosa Rivero: “Anyone who feels that they want to participate in the ESG conversation. It could be an executive or senior director, a senior person who’s getting questions from investors and other stakeholders about ESG and wants to know what their company's role should be. Or somebody more junior that knows things are shifting in their company in terms of environment, social and governance, but doesn't know how to participate in these activities So they are able to join that conversation.”
Public or private companies?
Rosa Rivero: “I think people have a perception that ESG is only for the big guys. That ESG is only for Shell, Chevron or Suncor. That it’s not for them. But I think the pressure is mounting and smaller companies have the same, if not greater, needs to access capital. So, ESG is no longer just for the companies with a profile and visibility, it’s for companies of all sizes.”
What is a common mistake companies make related to ESG or sustainability?
Rosa Rivero: “Waiting to be advanced in their ESG practices to report. Small companies especially think that if they don’t have all the practices that the big companies have they can’t report, or they say to themselves, “Once we have a target we will report”, or “Once we’ve handled it we’ll report”. But I’ve seen that the market and the public give a lot of credit to companies for just being transparent and being accountable. So even if that first attempt is not perfect. just starting on the reporting journey can make a big difference in their credibility and the ability to access to capital. No need to wait for perfection.”
What is the biggest shift you have seen with respect to ESG?
Rosa Rivero: “Ten years ago, most of the ESG conversation was related to social licence. Many companies were reporting on their environmental and social impacts to ensure that communities around projects would support them. But now, the motivation has shifted to access to capital. And it's really not just for publicly traded companies trying to access large institutional investors. But even for small private companies that access private equity, issue a bond, get a bank loans, or even get insurance. If they don’t manage, and communicate their ESG practices, they're being limited.”
What will attendees achieve at the end of the three-hour course?
Rosa Rivero: “My number one hope for participants is clarity. There’s a lot of confusion about what ESG is and isn’t. The ESG is space filled with acronyms. Every week there’s announcements about a new organization trying to develop a new ESG reporting framework, a new ESG fund, a new ESG index. We want to provide participants with clarity about ESG, what it is, and why it is important specifically for oil and gas companies.