Report on Sustainability 2019

Partnering with Indigenous businesses and communities

Increase revenue to Indigenous businesses and communities.
Petro-Canada station owned and operated by the First Nations band – NK’MIP
Petro-Canada station owned and operated by the First Nations band – NK’MIP

Petro-Canada retail and wholesale sites

Over the last several years, we have successfully grown relationships and expanded business development opportunities with Indigenous communities including through Suncor’s Petro-Canada brand.

Petro-Canada began partnering with First Nation business owners in 1997. In 2018, four new retail sites opened, bringing the number of Petro-Canada branded retail sites owned and operated by First Nations across Canada to more than 30. One new wholesale site was also opened, for a total of nine First Nation owned or leased wholesale sites.

As part of our ongoing efforts to deepen relationships with station owners and communities we hosted owners in Calgary for a business conference in early 2019. The conference was a chance to take a moment to celebrate together, while also sharing learnings and best practices from across the country.

Mutually beneficial business relationships between Suncor and Indigenous communities leverage our Petro-Canada brand and communities’ goals for economic development.

There is significant pride in the community ownership of this [Petro-Canada] station and the return on investment that we are able to put back in the community, including creating new full time jobs. All revenues are utilized for growth and for programs and services offered to our membership. We are very proud of the legacy it is creating.
Chief Rosanne Casimir
from Tk’emlups te Secwepec in British Columbia, where one of the sites is located

We want to continue to work together with our partners as well as expand these efforts and increase our business with Indigenous communities because it makes good economic sense – for Suncor and for Indigenous Peoples across Canada.

Increasing Indigenous supplier-spend

Suncor has a long history of working with Indigenous suppliers and communities, including in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB). Indigenous companies provide a broad range of services and expertise to help us run our business, including lodging, supplying materials like pipes and truck tires, and providing expertise to help us maintain information technology systems.

Suncor defines an Indigenous business as a company owned and operated, either wholly or in part (i.e., greater than or equal to 51%) by an Indigenous community or entrepreneur. This is in line with the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business (CCAB) and Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA) definitions.

As part of our social goal, which has a baseline year of 2015, we set a target to spend $600 million annually with Indigenous businesses by 2025.

In 2018, Suncor spent $703 million with 83 Indigenous businesses, including 24 new suppliers. This exceeded the spend target seven years ahead of our goal.

We have also spent more than $5 billion with Indigenous suppliers since 1999. This includes both direct spend and indirect spend where non-Indigenous suppliers sub contract to Indigenous suppliers.

Though we are proud of this achievement and proud of the many Indigenous businesses we have partnered with to make this happen, our efforts are not only about the dollars we spend. More important is how we work together and we know there is still a lot of work to do here.

Our future business development efforts will include working with Indigenous businesses to focus on capability and capacity development. We also remain focused on building awareness and capability within our own teams so engagement with businesses and communities is thoughtful, continuous and – ultimately – a part of Suncor culture.

We also want to apply what we’ve learned over the last 20 years more consistently across our businesses, so more Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from our operations.

In 2018, this meant establishing the first Indigenous business engagement strategy in our Downstream business. As a result, we doubled the amount we spent in 2017 saw a year-over-on Indigenous business spend within Downstream.

"We’ve found by opening doors and building relationships with Indigenous businesses, we’ve become aware of many companies that can provide competitive services which meet our safety and quality standards," says Dean Wilcox, vice president of Suncor’s Edmonton refinery. "This is a win-win as we obtain the services, and the income supports Indigenous businesses and communities."

We also know we can’t do this alone. Together with our suppliers, contractors, and sub-suppliers we are looking for opportunities throughout our value chain, and encouraging others to get engaged. This is part of our standard evaluation processes when awarding contracts.

In 2018, Mark Little also stepped forward to co-chair the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, the national Aboriginal Procurement Champions program. The effort is designed to challenge companies to engage more Indigenous businesses in their supply chains.

“I believe there are a lot of companies out there who want to engage but don’t know where to start. That’s where the Champions program comes in,” says Mark Little, president and chief executive officer.

Working with Indigenous businesses and communities is essential to creating mutually beneficial partnerships, and it is one thing Suncor can do to contribute to economic reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians. This is aligned to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action for corporate Canada.

Community partnerships

In 2017, Suncor signed two significant business partnerships with First Nation communities, the East Tank Farm Development and Petro-Nor.

The signing of these agreements was the result of many years of relationship building, hard work, and discussions to identify and understand areas of mutual interest. Through the process, we developed greater understanding and trust – and we worked collaboratively to achieve this.

These partnerships demonstrate a positive evolution in our long-term relationships and new ways that we are working together with communities. We continue to look for new mutually-beneficial opportunities to engage communities across our business.

Planning for long-term relationships

Suncor has developed Joint Business Development Plans (JBDPs) with key communities in RMWB. The JBDPs provide structure on how we work together and collectively focus on key objectives. These plans include annual work plans that help Indigenous communities to direct efforts where there is a possibility to increase business, and that help Suncor track suppliers’ capabilities.

Sustaining opportunities

Relationships are essential to advancing business opportunities. Meaningful participation requires the ability to understand each other’s motivations, strengths and limitations. It can also require the willingness to have challenging conversations in an authentic and respectful way. This kind of dialogue is important to having long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.

Our approach focuses on listening, being transparent and honest about the opportunities that exist, and being fair and firm when explaining decisions – no matter the outcome.

While we monitor our supply chain spending and want to continue to grow our work with Indigenous businesses, we are also mindful that it must be done in the right way. We will continue to be commercially responsible and ensure agreements are of benefit to all parties involved, and not simply focused on achieving a set dollar value or target. Suncor’s engagement with Indigenous suppliers is part of the way we do business for procurement opportunities across Canada.

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Recommended readings
Stakeholder and Indigenous relations
Economic impact
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