Rising Stars 2021: Energy industry could benefit from more diverse workforce, says inclusion consultant and HR professional

Gillian Hynes

Editor’s note: We’ll be running all Rising Stars Class of 2021 profiles over the next two weeks. Today, we profile Gillian Hynes.


Beginning with her first job as a recruiter at Shell Canada, people have always been at the heart of the energy industry for people and strategy professional human resources consultant Gillian Hynes.

“What I think really attracted me and kept me in energy was the opportunity and experience, working at Shell for a completely integrated organization that touches every part of the energy value chain,” says Hynes, who recently joined Rise Consulting Ltd., an Indigenous-owned national management consultancy, after a stint at TC Energy Corporation.

 “Why I stayed … [was] this whole idea of providing affordable access to energy or balancing energy needs in a socially and environmentally conscious way — exploring how we can be more inclusive and innovative in organizations in energy,” she says.

“Imagine the ability to lead in this space, especially in Canada,” says Hynes, director of Indigenous Inclusion and Strategy at Rise, whose purpose is to support the rising presence of Indigenous peoples. “I’m not Indigenous; I am a settler, but I am listening, learning and acting in reconciliation.”

In her new position, Hynes’ role is to work with organizations, helping them to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action and in particular Call to Action #92, which asks the corporate sector and its leadership to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework.

 “At Rise, our tenant is ‘nothing about you, without you,’ as we work with organizations to support and guide them as they build relationships with Indigenous communities and Peoples,” she says. “We support organizations checking in, building relationship, listening, learning, and acting with community as they build their reconciliation pathways.”

She sees energy as providing economic sovereignty for Indigenous Peoples, who will have an opportunity to benefit from ownership projects. “There’s a whole ecosystem growing to increase Indigenous ownership in companies.” For example, the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation recently supported a joint venture with eight First Nations communities and Suncor Energy Inc.

Hynes, who has a commerce degree from the University of Calgary and an MBA from Queen’s University, also is co-founder of And Together, which she describes as a “real passion project” that a good co-founder and “a very supportive spouse at home” have enabled her to pursue as the mother of two young sons.  

And Together works within organizations to examine the barriers to inclusion. “The intent, really, is to listen and to find those patterns, and then to provide for a program to help people work through systems — system design really — and come up with solutions to these challenges to inclusion.”

 With an energy industry that is still predominantly male and white, there’s a big challenge in how to bring in more women, more Black and Indigenous and people of colour and beyond that, members of the LGBTQ community, she says. “How are we doing for accessibility and people with different disabilities, visible and non-visible?”

But equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is not only about bringing in a more diverse workforce. “You have to have that culture and talk about inclusion and belonging and psychological safety,” says Hynes. “You have to have that culture in your workplace where people feel they can bring their whole selves, or the parts that they actually want to bring into work.”

She believes the industry needs to do better in accelerating diverse representation because research shows that it’s the plurality of ideas that creates innovation and better outcomes as well as making better workplaces and businesses.

“For me, innovation really is kind of people, culture and EDI because if we have to change how work gets done, where work gets done, what work gets done, how it’s done, that’s all influenced by technology, by generational and social shifts,” says Hynes.

“I really think about the core human skills like creativity, problem solving, empathy, strategic thinking and compassion — all these things that robots and machines can’t replace.” The innovation, she says, will be in building those skills in an organization, either as employer or as a worker in the energy industry.

Hynes is equally passionate about community involvement as a mentor, board member and guest university lecturer, “which she attributes to her commitment to help improve the lives and well-being of people, including political representation. She is president of the non-partisan, non-profit Ask Her YYC, which supports increasing gender representation in municipal politics and that work showed results with the recent election of four of the program participants.

“I think why I give so much of my time and knowledge is because volunteering brings people together and I can honestly say I am a better person, having volunteered and been part of so many different communities.”

As for the future, Hynes acknowledges that young people may not be as interested in working in the energy industry but she urges them to be open minded to the experience.

“Energy is dynamic. It’s exciting,” she says. “There’s an opportunity for new skills, new resources, fresh and modern leadership, [and] plurality of ideas.”


Rising Stars: Sponsors

Fluor Canada

Fluor has provided engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction, and project management services to Canada’s energy industry for 72 years. Its 43,000 employees globally (and 3,000+ across Canada) deliver comprehensive services — from conceptual design through to commissioning and maintenance — for all types and sizes of facilities. Fluor applies its broad expertise, extensive experience, and proven technology to benefit Canada’s energy transition in areas such as liquefied natural gas, carbon capture, hydrogen, renewable fuels, small modular reactors, and minerals mining. Fluor is committed to positively contributing to Canada’s energy tomorrow by focusing on safe and sustainable solutions today. This commitment includes focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure opportunities represent the diversity of Canada’s population and support reconciliation, partnerships, and benefit-sharing with Indigenous peoples. 

  

 geoLOGIC systems ltd.

geoLOGIC systems ltd. is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and has been providing high-quality, integrated data and analytics to the upstream oil and gas industry in Western Canada and elsewhere for almost 40 years. geoLOGIC’s relentless focus on innovation, quality, and service has made it the trusted standard in the upstream Canadian industry. Customers include exploration and production companies in oil & gas and related products; pipeline and midstream companies; service companies; the financial sector government and regulatory organizations, and educational institutions. Key products include geoSCOUT, a decision-support tool providing high quality data and analytics for all disciplines within the oil and gas industry, and gDC, geoLOGIC’s comprehensive upstream oil and gas database. 

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