Our focus on advancing Aboriginal workforce participation is strengthened by the numerous collaborative partnerships and relationships we continue to build with Aboriginal communities, leaders and teams within Suncor, and external stakeholder groups and agencies who share similar goals. We are pleased to share a number of successes experienced as a result of these relationships.
Fort Hills workforce strategy
Significant hiring took place in 2017 to recruit and prepare a workforce to safely, reliably and in an environmentally responsible way, start up and operate Alberta’s newest oil sands asset – Fort Hills. One consideration in the Fort Hills workforce strategy was recommendations provided to Suncor in 2015 by the Aboriginal Human Resource Council (now called Indigenous Works), which focused on how to strengthen attraction activities and encourage Aboriginal candidates.
In addition, leaders at Fort Hills who were hiring candidates were given training to build their awareness of how unconscious bias can impact decisions around hiring. By taking a deliberate, focused approach on Aboriginal recruitment and hiring, a total of 33 Aboriginal employees were hired in 2017 to work in Fort Hills. This is 6% of the total number of hires at Fort Hills in 2017.
Summer Aboriginal Student Program
The Summer Aboriginal Student Program (SASP) supports our social goal of building greater mutual trust and respect with Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and aligns with our belief that today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. This program offers Aboriginal students an opportunity to gain valuable work experience at one of our locations. It is open to Aboriginal students who are starting or returning to a post-secondary program on a full-time basis in September.
The SASP experienced an increase in the number of roles in 2017 – going from eight summer positions in 2016 to 17 in 2017. Through the fall of 2017, Suncor leaders and teams continued to express increasing interest in the program and a significantly expanded program will unfold in future years.
“My experience in the Summer Aboriginal Student Program was extremely positive. It really helped me confirm that engineering is what I want to pursue as a career. It was really helpful to be able to discuss the experience with other students in the program. It was also really beneficial to network and meet new people.” Paul Fleet, engineering co-op student.
Aboriginal workforce development advisor
In 2017, just over 3% of Suncor’s workforce self-identified as Aboriginal, a small increase over 2016. We aim to do more to achieve our goal of increasing the participation of Aboriginal Peoples in Suncor’s workforce.
To support this important work, Suncor created the role of an Aboriginal workforce development advisor. Based in Fort McMurray, our advisor is focused on working with First Nation communities in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) and with Aboriginal skills and employment training (SET) holders in the RMWB and Edmonton areas. Specifically, our advisor:
- Engages with and supports communities to help Suncor understand the employability, needs, interests and barriers to employment of Aboriginal Peoples in the areas where we operate.
- Shares information on Suncor’s current and future workforce needs, the recruitment process and the skills and training required for roles. In 2017, the advisor and Suncor recruiters spent a day in Fort McKay, providing a workshop on Suncor’s hiring requirements and recruitment standards and offering help to strengthen resumes and cover letters, as well as help people become more comfortable with video interviews.
- Works closely with Suncor’s talent acquisition team to ensure job postings are sent to communities on a weekly basis, and that Suncor is aware of Aboriginal community sponsored job/career-related events.
- Shares information with communities on Suncor-sponsored training and pre-employment programs (e.g., Women Building Futures).
- Engages with other Aboriginal workforce stakeholders in the Wood Buffalo region to identify where Aboriginal employment opportunities exist and how to develop an Aboriginal labour force that aligns to labour market demand.
This position also acts as an internal advisor to Suncor leaders and teams, providing advice, support, information, analysis and wisdom to help Suncor drive increased Aboriginal workforce participation and Aboriginal inclusion in our people processes and programs.
Aboriginal Employee Network
The Aboriginal Employee Network is an employee resource group developed by and for Suncor employees wanting to play a part in advancing Aboriginal inclusion and creating a safe and supportive workplace culture for Aboriginal employees. The network has grown to over 600 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal members since its launch in the summer of 2015. The network is structured around four focus areas being advanced by small work teams called Circles. Each Circle has five to eight members from across Suncor’s businesses who meet regularly to develop programs and initiatives:
- Aboriginal Community Circle: build a community of support for Aboriginal employees at Suncor
- Aboriginal Outreach Circle: develop a pool of Suncor ambassadors to visit Aboriginal communities, with a focus on youth
- Aboriginal Advisory Circle: create a way for Aboriginal employees to advise Suncor on how the company works with Aboriginal Peoples
- Aboriginal Awareness Circle: to increase awareness and understanding within Suncor of Aboriginal experiences