CSR a lower priority for Canadian energy companies

August 19, 2009
by Purchasingb2b staff

Toronto—Attracting and retaining key talent was cited as more critical than corporate social responsibility (CSR) by Canadian energy companies, according to a recent survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers and JuneWarren-Nickle’s Energy Group.

The study, conducted in May and June 2009, involved 140 respondents, mostly filling senior roles within the energy sector. The majority work for exploration and production companies producing a mix of natural gas and crude oil.

Only 12 percent believe the strength of CSR programs is critical to future growth, and 28 percent feel it’s not important at all.

When asked when producers anticipated deploying new technologies in response to the issue of climate change, 30 percent didn’t anticipate making any changes in the next year. But attracting and retaining key talent was viewed by 68 percent of respondents as a top issue.

“During the economic downturn, improving financial and operational performance clearly trumps CSR initiatives,” said Christine Schuh, associate partner and leader of PwC’s climate change services group in Canada.

“However, climate change is the single largest issue within the broader topic of sustainability. With increasing demand for water and other natural resources, operations will invariably be affected.”

The report, called the "2009 Canadian Energy Survey Q1 Update," showed 26 percent of respondents believe scarcity of natural resources will have a significant impact on their businesses in the next three years.

Low influence by community

In terms of decision-making, about 40 percent of respondents said domestic governments and regulators play a very influential role on decisions made in their companies. Close to 30 percent of respondents also believe regulatory compliance will have a significant impact on their business within the next three years.

When respondents were asked to select from a list of 15 strategic areas their company will focus on in the next three years, public education and engagement was ranked lowest, according to the authors. Asset management and optimization ranked number one, followed by operational performance.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), media, foreign governments and local communities have a much lower level of influence than regulators, according to respondents. About 31 percent said local communities, including aboriginal groups, have no influence on decisions made within their organizations, while 73 percent said NGOs have no influence.