Paving the Way for Environmental, Social and Governance Frameworks in the Energy Industry

January 2021—DENVER, CO

Over the past several years, Great Western has been committed to leading the way in developing a new corporate social responsibility framework in accordance with standards defined as environmental, social and governance (ESG). In today’s energy industry, strong ESG policies make lives better for external stakeholders, as well as set the conditions for financial success, employee happiness, and a cohesive sense of purpose for the entire organization. 

​At Great Western, our mission is to produce energy in a safe and responsible manner so we can improve people’s lives. A strong and evolving ESG framework has helped us live up to our goal.

While all three pillars of an ESG strategy are important, in our industry, environmental matters often take center stage. We have maintained a laser focus on how we impact the environment that we operate in and are continually looking for ways to be better stewards of our irreplaceable resource.

Environment

Technological innovation is an important way that members of the energy industry can make a significant environmental impact. For example, water management has been one focus of our ESG policy. Recently, we began deploying technologies to reduce the amount of fresh water used in operations and reuse water as often as we safely can. We also have worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through technological innovations and operational efficiencies, allowing us to produce the cleanest barrel of oil. Since 2015, we have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 48% while our operations grew by 700%. With the total environmental, health and safety inspections in 2019 across 122 sites, each site averaged 425 EHS inspections that year. Through these aggressive environmental initiatives, Great Western continues to be a leader in the natural gas and oil industry in Colorado and beyond.  

Away from the work site, our company supports sustainability and environmental restoration in our surrounding areas. One way we do this is though our partnership with the Butterfly Pavilion in Broomfield, Colorado, to study and determine the pollinators on this land to plant long-term landscaping on our facility berms that benefit the species and pollinators as part of the reclamation process. This project, to our knowledge, is the first of its kind in the nation and is something of which we are incredibly proud.

Social

By focusing on the betterment of employees, supplier relationships, stakeholders, and how interactions are handled with local communities where energy is developed, we have created positive relationships with our communities and our stakeholders at the base of our social policies.

Those policies include our commitment to creating a positive culture where most workplace injuries can be prevented. Some ways we do this is through the use of continuous monitoring devices at field locations, strict compliance and conducting thousands of hours of training each year to create awareness of safety risks and to prevent accidents. Cumulatively, Great Western employees receive over 1,000 hours of safety training annually including industry-specific best practices, OSHA requirements, and hazard identification and control. This has led to Great Western employees working over 500,000 hours without an OSHA recordable injury or lost time incident. In addition, Great Western implements a robust safety incentive program for its employees that encourages and rewards the practice of freely sharing ideas for safety improvements.

Another element of our social focus is our commitment to the communities in which we operate. In 2019, our employees spent more than 500 hours volunteering in their communities, and we supported 53 non-profits and civic organizations. Our employees also served more than 45,000 meals at foodbanks through the Great Western Holiday Giving Campaign. We upped our stewardship budget by 50% for the year 2020, and these resources have been directed to projects in the diverse communities in which we operate. In one instance, Great Western’s dedication to inclusivity helped shape brilliant young minds in a partnership with the Colorado Association of Black Professional Engineers and Scientists (CABPES), a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging African Americans and other underrepresented youth to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. In the face of the unanticipated COVID crisis, our social investment team identified areas of critical support through food banks, energy assistance programs, and family services groups to answer the unprecedented needs our communities have faced.

Governance

Our ESG framework is further strengthened with an improved corporate governance structure that includes a renewed focus on avoiding conflicts of interest, strict oversight responsibility assigned to senior leaders, and the maintenance of positive relationships with regulators and lawmakers.

Within that corporate governance structure, we have a diverse and experienced leadership team; in fact, over 40% of managers in our organization are women. Not only does promoting women increase diverse perspectives at the top of the decision-making chain, but several studies, including the Credit Suisse 3000, demonstrate that the higher the percentage of women in top management, the greater the returns are for shareholders. Our diverse experience at senior levels allows us to see issues from different perspectives and arrive at solutions that are good for the company, investors and a multitude of external stakeholders. One example being the expansion of Great Western’s community investment program led by our vice president of corporate communications and government affairs, Susan Fakharzadeh.

To further solidify the governance piece of our ESG framework, we create memoranda of understanding with local governments that ensure our work is compatible with the future use of the places where we operate. We are also members of state trade associations, including the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, which help guide our internal governance policies and allows us to influence other market participants and stakeholders. We hold leadership positions within organizations that foster economic development and influence within the broader business community, both to represent and establish a critical voice for the energy industry within the communities where we operate.

ESG forms the basis for operations at Great Western, and each year, we continue to drill deeper into each pillar. Our board and management team share a commitment to ESG, and that dedication has resulted in a strong company with a healthy work environment, thriving communities, and a high level of stakeholder engagement. For more details on our ESG efforts, visit our environment, social and governance pages.