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									Do Good

Speech by
Jim Carter
President and Chief Operating Officer
Syncrude Canada Ltd.

to The Laurel Awards Luncheon
Edmonton, Alberta
18 September 2002

Your Honour, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.

It’s a great pleasure for me to join with you today for the Laurel Awards
luncheon. In saying that, I also want to pass along the regrets of Eric Newell,
who was looking forward to this event, but was called to Calgary on urgent

Today, as we salute excellence in Edmonton’s not-for-profit community, I want
to take a moment to thank Sol Rolingher and Duncan & Craig for their initiative,
because the not-for-profit sector makes the fabric of our community a strong
one indeed.

There are many outstanding people and organizations who do a lot of good.
And oftentimes, their job is a thankless and anonymous one, despite the fact
that every day they work with limited resources to create any number of small
miracles... miracles that benefit our community in so many ways.

Recognizing them as we are today... well, it makes me think that, these days,
there’s more than a little bit of irony involved when the president of a major
corporation gets up to talk to an audience, and whose basic message is, do

Lately, it seems, sentiments along that line have been coming from the other

But by and large, while some of the criticism of business leaders is well
deserved, I do think that the cases of corporate malfeasance are isolated... they
don’t reflect the overall corporate community, especially in Canada.

And today, I’m going to talk to you about why it is indeed a good thing for
businesses of all stripes and sizes to manage their affairs in a responsible way.
A way that benefits those who have a financial interest, and at the same time is
supportive of the needs and interests of employees and the communities where
we live and work.

The concept is called corporate social responsibility, and the key to making it
meaningful lies in corporate leadership, and the values you instill in yourself and
every single employee who works for you.

That last point is probably the most important, because, in the end, good
governance isn’t determined by the rules you make, but rather the values you

And a well-governed, ethically run business is one that’s going to create more
value, and have a greater competitive edge over the long run.

As it turns out, I happen to run a company that I believe fits that description.
Working with our employees and our community stakeholders, we have been
able to develop Syncrude as a model of an environmentally responsible and
socially progressive company. We also turn out a pretty good profit for our

And all of these things are outcomes of our corporate values. I want to talk
about this for a minute, because corporate ethics policies and codes of conduct
and the like mean absolutely nothing if they aren’t embodied in the actions of
every single person who works for the company. So the onus is on leaders like
me to make them real.

If you believe in the statements of principle you helped your company write,
then it is entirely logical that you should live up to them. What’s more, you’ve
got to take the next step and continually work to drive these beliefs down into
the ranks. I’ve been an executive at Syncrude for more than 15 years and

president for five years, and I can tell you that this is a job that never goes away.
And given recent corporate scandals, it is a job that has never been more
important than it is today.

My experience has been that there’s a relatively high level of excitement when
people are developing their corporate mission statements and the values that
dictate how the mission is to be achieved.

At the outset, there might be a speech to employees, articles in the company
newsletter and coffee mugs plastered with appropriate sentiments. And then,
almost as soon as it began, it’s over. Work continues as it did before, with no
real change in either attitudes or behaviours.

When you consider that the point of exercises like this is to provide direction
on day-to-day behaviour and decision making, you’ve got to stop and ask what
has really been achieved?

The answer is, not much. In fact, what has really happened is that the door has
been left open for people to intrepret for themselves what is acceptable and
what is not — and we’ve seen ample evidence of the kinds of things that can
lead to.

So, instead of giving employees a license to play fast and loose, you’ve got to
work to integrate your organization’s values into the fabric of the company, and
this is not achieved overnight. In fact, work toward it never ends.

At Syncrude, safety is one of our fundamental values. But a decade ago, this
was interpreted by some to mean safety first, unless it gets in the way of
production. Some employees actually thought they were doing the company a
favour by keeping production going at all costs. Clearly, this is not how we
want our people to think and act. So we had to demonstrate that we really
meant it by taking them to task for unsafe work practices. Then we showed
them how to work more safely. We rewarded them for it. We drove it home
culturally and procedurally. We still do. And today, Syncrude has one of the
best industrial safety records of any company in Canada.

But, as I said, work toward that outcome is never-ending.

It’s the same thing when it comes to interacting with our community
stakeholders. Our guiding principles say we will do this with care, honesty and

Yet, I myself have in the past come up against employees who would prefer not
to consult with our stakeholders. Or those who would slash our community
investment program when we have to cutback on our budgets. They view it as
a frill that doesn’t add any value to the core operation of the business.

In fact, the opposite is true. By working to build community capacity,
especially as it pertains to Aboriginal people, we have become regarded as a
good neighbor. And that is something the regulators view as important. What’s
more, by holding fast to the principles we hold dear — and working to instill
them up and down the line — Syncrude has earned the respect and trust of our
neighbours which serves us well in good times and bad.

But Syncrude is, after all, just one company of four thousand employees that
exists in a much larger world. What’s being done to raise the bar elsewhere?

Well there is one thing that I’m involved with.

It’s an initiative championed by the Mining Association of Canada and endorsed
by all of its member companies... the people who develop our mine-able

Collectively, we are responsible for some $28 billion dollars in annual economic
activity. And under the banner of Towards Sustainable Mining, we are
working to earn our social license to operate. Whether it involves matters of
human rights, the environment, the economy or the community... we’re aiming
to be — and be seen as — progressive in all respects.

Why are we doing this? Well, mainly because there’s a lot of good that can
come from it. And as Chairman of the Association, I’d like to speak briefly
about the benefits.

It’s going to enhance our corporate performance in an environment that’s
increasingly transparent and demanding. It’s also going to establish Canada as
the home of choice for well-run global resource enterprises. And, finally, it’s

going to benefit community groups and the not-for profit sector by giving them
the opportunity to establish new and constructive relationships with a
responsive corporate sector.

Really, it all boils down to good leadership... leadership that instills a certain set
of values among everyone who works for you.

That begins with a code of conduct to guide employees as they make decisions
and go about their affairs. But, as I said earlier, it’s not enough to make a
blanket statement that says we will be ethical in all of our endeavours. Even
including such issues as relationships with customers and suppliers, or
environmental protection, or workplace health and safety, for example... these
things don’t mean a whit if employees don’t know about them, don’t
understand them, and most important, don’t agree to them as a condition of

So it comes down to turning a set of rules into an expression of values. Are
we really living up to the principles we espouse? And are we working to
ensure that everyone in our organization does the same?

At Syncrude, we have ongoing training on this subject, and it is very helpful in
promoting discussion and knowledge about ethical conduct. It also ensures
that every employee understands exactly what Syncrude stands for in our
corporate values — values that we expect them to uphold.

One of those core values is corporate involvement in the community. We think
we can be a positive force, and in ways that are supportive of our business
goals. If it happens that people hold us in higher regard because of this, so
much the better.

My point is that the corporate sector — and this includes companies of all sizes
— can find a lot of ways to gain by doing good in the community.

Syncrude’s work with the Aboriginal community in our area is an excellent case
in point. Over many years, we have worked with our First Nations neighbours
to build the capacity needed for their people to achieve their goals.

At first this involved establishing a relationship of trust and mutual respect,
which itself can take some time. But with that came an opportunity for each of
us to work toward some common goals.

One of the biggest issues for Syncrude is our need for a highly skilled
workforce. We run a huge operation, yet we operate in an area which is
sparsely populated and remote from urban centres. Two of the priorities for the
First Nations are employment for their people and encouragement for their
young people to stay in school. So we have worked together on such issues as
education and training, with the result that First Nations people are getting the
skills they need to find rewarding and productive careers. And young people are
getting the attention they need to become successful learners.

Happily for Syncrude, we’re getting a local source of talent that’s as good as
any. And our community is benefiting by having young Aboriginal people
emerge as teachers, nurses, engineers and the like.

In a similar vein, we have worked to develop and support the entrepreneurial
ventures of Aboriginal people by offering such things as business advice and
the opportunity to bid on work contracts. And you know what? We have
found the Aboriginal community to be an excellent source of goods and
services that’s oftentimes more competitive than other sources.

So much so, that Syncrude did $92 million dollars worth of business with
Aboriginal firms last year alone, and nearly $500 million in the last decade.

And what else is coming of that? Well these firms, some of which are owned
by the First Nations while others are privately held, are now venturing forth to
capture even more business from other oil sands players... and are going even
farther afield and meeting with great success.

If you’re interested in learning more about Syncrude’s Aboriginal development
work, it is well documented in our most recent Aboriginal Review which is just
off the press, and I have brought copies with me today.

I mention this because there’s been some discussion in Edmonton lately about
the difficulties faced by other Aboriginal communities. And while I don’t for a

minute want to be prescriptive, I do think that what’s been achieved by
Aboriginal communities in northeastern Alberta is encouraging
to say the least. They are now well on the road to self-determination and
Canada has gained greatly from their increased productivity and their increased
participation in our society. Given that Aboriginal people are one of the fastest
growing segments of our nation’s population, this is a welcome trend indeed.

But the opportunity to talk about Syncrude isn’t the reason I’m here today. I’m
here to use our example as a call for greater engagement by the business sector
in building better communities. And this includes you whether you have three
employees or three thousand.

We can’t operate in a vacuum because this approach is not sustainable.
Instead, we’ve got to recognize that our corporate success is entirely dependent
on our relationships with our stakeholders and the well-being of the world
around us.

And if you don’t believe that we need to take into account the interests of a
wide variety of stakeholders in the conduct of business affairs, then fine.
Continue with business as usual. But if your company ever finds itself in a tight
spot, don’t be surprised when people don’t rally around to support you.

I would like to think, however, that the great majority of business people in this
room have an entirely different outlook. And while it’s up to each of us here to
determine how to express and integrate our values with business strategy, we
all share the belief that good corporate citizenship plays an essential role in
enhancing public trust, in attracting and retaining talented people, and in
reducing investor perceptions of risk.

Remember, too, that most of us are in business for the long haul. We want to
be able to make a good living and enjoy our work.

And if that is our intent in business and in our jobs, then it had better be our
intent when it comes to our community and social investments as well.

It would be naïve to think that a one-year investment in, say, a college
scholarship would impress your stakeholders for any appreciable length of time.

If you’re not there in a year or two, then expect to be asked: what have you
done for me lately? The crowds can be very fickle and the stakes can be high.

Once you’re in, you’re in it for the long-term and you have to be prepared to
live up to the community’s expectations of you. At Syncrude, we really try to
live our vision and values and that stands us well in both good and bad times.

In closing, I would ask you to do what the leaders of Canada’s mining
companies are doing: review your strategies for corporate social responsibility
whether they involve respect for human rights, environmental stewardship or
community investment. And then ask yourselves what additional action can
I take in this respect? What can I do that would be consistent with my duty
to shareholders and my obligation to the broader community?

I think you’ll find that you can do more. You can open more avenues of
opportunity for your employees, their families and your community.

Clearly, it’s the right thing to do. So let’s do good with an open mind and a
willing heart.

Thanks for listening.


(JEC to present gold Laurel Award following speech)


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