MEG CEO Talks Diversity Shift, Future Employment Opportunities

When it comes to inclusion in the workplace, there’s been a lot of conversation but not enough action, according to Derek Evans.

The MEG Energy Corp. president and chief executive officer participated in the Allies in Energy 2023 Executive Forum, hosted by Calgary Women in Energy at the Calgary Petroleum Club in February.

It has become, ‘let’s talk about this a bit more,’” described Evans.

“Set some targets. Demonstrate action.”

“Does that board demonstrate the sort of gender and racial diversity … Indigenous diversity that we want? Do we set some targets in terms of how we are going to move forward? Do we have a plan to roll out Indigenous equity, diversity training for our people? Are we actually working on it?

“But talking about it — continuing to talk about this for the next 20 years is not going to move the yard sticks at all.”

Evans was joined by Katie Mehnert, chief executive officer at ALLY Energy and ambassador to the U.S. Department of Energy; Max Chan, senior vice-president, corporate development at Enbridge Inc., Crystal Smith, elected chief councillor of Haisla Nation; and Katie Kachur, vice-president government relations, Canadian Propane Association (CPA).

“I can look at the numbers that are representations of different marginalized groups inside of my company and I can go ‘oh my god, this is going to take a long time,’” Evans said.  

“Yeah, it may take a long time but if you don’t start it will take even longer. Please … take action. Don’t be afraid to set targets. Don’t be afraid to understand what the portion of your employee population is Indigenous or racialized and try and strive to meet what it looks like it the communities in which you work in.”

Chan advised keeping organizations accountable.

“Every employee at Enbridge has access to this dashboard that lists out all of this,” he said. “By group, by gender, by underrepresented groups, by business units — anything. The point of it is that it is totally transparent.

“Everyone in the organization can see how we are doing. We have targets and we can see how it is.”

The accountability extends to the board level, as well. 

“We put our money where our mouth is at …the public company level,” Chan said. “We have targets for both our employees and our boards.

“We [are] doing it internally, we are doing it publicly, we are quite committed to this. Back to the dashboard, every month each business unit of our company meets with our CEO and goes through operating metrics and these sorts of things — one of the metrics, right front page, gender diversity. So, it’s front and centre and [it] has to be.

“Again, back to the transparency: where we are doing well, where we [aren’t] and holding people accountable by keeping it front and centre.”

Evans said his company’s board has gender and Indigenous diversity, which he characterizes as interesting, but it i“table stakes.”

There should be a focus on what can be done in the employee population, both in Calgary and on-site, he added.

“… There is going to be a serious war for talent,” Evans shared with the audience. “I know you don’t believe that because since 2014, we have all been involved in companies which have seen successive rounds of layoffs. Well, those layoffs are over, the game has changed, and we are all going to be looking for people to come and join our companies.

“What I would ask each one of you gender-diverse or racially-diverse people is — take a risk, before you forget how to take risks,” he added.

People who belong to these groups are encouraged to put their name forward, said Evans, adding efforts to find them will be made, as well.

“If we have a hiring panel that doesn’t have any diversity on it, that panel doesn’t move forward until we have some diverse candidates,” said Evans. “We will actually go out, using the tools that are available to us today, and go find people and ask them if they are interested in applying for the job.

“This isn’t a sort of passive, ‘well, nobody applied so I guess that’s the way it’s going be,’” he added. “No, a little more effort than that, a little more action, and we will see some different results.

“Mark my words, three years from now, you will all have had an opportunity to step up and take a job above and beyond what you are doing today,” he continued. “The gap that is going to exist as people retire and people leave the business — there is a generation and a half that is not resident in the normal continuum. That is going to disappear and that is the opportunity that is going to exist for all of you.”

Smith shared what she has seen from Haisla Nation’s members working for LNG Canada. This project is in Kitimat B.C, in the traditional territory of the Haisla Nation.

“They are not on the construction side, they are not building the project, they have careers with LNG Canada,” said Smith. “They have the experience, but this is giving them that opportunity and building the skillset where they need it.”


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