Good governance is about providing guidance for our business, staying on top of issues and managing risks – immediate or potential – to our company.
Our Board of Directors oversees our governance framework of processes, controls, policies and practices to make sure we live up to our purpose, promise and values, maintain our relationships and protect our ability to grow our business. Simply put, good governance is necessary to keep our business running legally, effectively and ethically.
Our governance framework is focused on a number of elements, the most important of which are:
To ensure the long-term success of our business, we have a succession plan in place at the Board level. It is the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee’s responsibility to identify individuals qualified to become Board members, and recommend to the Board proposed nominees for election. The Committee seeks to ensure there is a sufficient range of skills, expertise and experience on our Board in assessing new nominees. The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee reviews and evaluates suggestions for candidates from individual Directors, the President & Chief Executive Officer and professional search organizations.
The skills matrix disclosed in our 2014 Management Proxy Circular illustrates the breadth of skills and experience possessed by our current Board members. These skills and experience were identified as being important to Cenovus following a review of recommended best practices, the Board’s mandate, Cenovus’s long-range plan and peer group disclosure.
Our Code of Business Conduct & Ethics applies to all officers, employees, contractors, consultants and Board members of Cenovus. The code aligns with our Corporate Responsibility Policy and addresses our position on a number of issues, including fraud, conflict of interest, political activities, use of the company’s assets and harassment in the workplace. We update the code regularly to reflect both societal changes as well as best practices in our business.
In 2013, we made some refinements to the code, which we believe will help strengthen our overall compliance and ethical conduct, and reduce risk to our business. The first refinement was the addition of an Acquisition and Supply of Goods & Services section to the code, which outlines the requirement for all employees and contractors involved in the acquisition of goods and services to act in a financially responsible and ethical manner. We also brought in wording on harassment and whistleblower protection from other related Cenovus practices for clarity and transparency.
Additionally, we deliver a fraud awareness training presentation every year to our business and operations teams as a way to generate discussion on ethical business conduct issues. In 2013, we also met with 350 of our top vendors to confirm with them our commitment to ethical conduct by our staff.
Every concern associated with our oil and natural gas activities and with the behaviours of the people who work for us is a serious matter. Depending on the nature of the concerns, they are communicated either to our leaders or human resources, or through more formal channels like our Integrity Helpline or Investigations Committee.
The Integrity Helpline is an anonymous and confidential option for individuals, including staff, to let us know about potential ethical, financial or workplace issues related to how we conduct our business. “Employees, community members and other stakeholders are increasingly aware that we have a channel in place to hear their concerns, that we have an established practice and that we have an Investigations Committee whose sole purpose is to investigate serious allegations such as potential conflict of interest or fraud,” says Carmelle Hunka, Vice-President of Governance, Compliance & Security at Cenovus. “We want anyone who has a concern to feel comfortable bringing it forward.”
Another way we address community concerns specifically is through our Expect Respect program, which focuses on strengthening relationships and demonstrating respect in the communities where we operate.
Keeping costs down and efficiencies up are challenges we continue to face. One way we’re identifying efficiencies that will improve our operational effectiveness and reduce our costs is through the Cenovus Operations Management System. It standardizes our processes, procedures and controls to help ensure we operate safely, responsibly and efficiently, and continuously improve performance. It also focuses on how key areas of our business – leadership, people, risk identification and mitigation, knowledge sharing, management of change and continuous improvement – align so we can execute with excellence.
In alignment with our Corporate Responsibility Policy, the Cenovus Operations Management System provides an assessment framework to review the processes and controls currently in place. In 2013, we revised the framework we were using to enable all operations supervisors, managers, leaders and operators to develop their area of responsibility in line with a consistent set of controls and standards.
Since mid-2012, we have increased our focus on improving the way we procure goods and services and on working only with suppliers who share our commitment to safety, quality and ethical conduct.
Some of the ways we have already improved our purchasing processes include:
We’re committed to reducing our water, natural gas and electricity use in our offices, where almost 60 percent of our people work. By monitoring our use, we’re able to measure our performance and find ways to improve. It also helps us understand the effectiveness of any changes we implement.
Some of the ways we reduce, reuse and recycle include:
Wherever possible, we integrate sustainable practices in the design of our office spaces. For example, we choose low-impact materials with high recycle rates from manufacturers who have a strong commitment to sustainability, such as wall panels containing insulating material made from recycled denim.