Sharing information online has never been easier. Every day, organizations reach out in cyberspace and invite unseen audiences to “learn more”, “view this or that” or “join the conversation.”
Underpinning all this sharing is a quest for transparency. These days, society expects businesses, governments and other institutions to pursue their mandates in ways that provides visibility into how they operate. Organizations pursue transparency in order to earn or rebuild public trust.
The importance of trust
For the popular consumer brands of the world, public trust equates to product sales. For political parties, trust translates into votes. And for Suncor and other energy players, public trust is critical in order to continue producing and delivering energy.
Despite unparalleled information sharing capability, trust in major societal institutions is actually in decline. According to the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, a report compiled by the public relations firm Edelman, non-governmental organizations, businesses and governments all struggle to earn and maintain trust.
In attempts to reverse this trend, companies are doubling down on online solutions to bolster transparency. Patagonia, for example, illuminates its supply chain on the web to help reduce adverse social and environmental impacts. In another example, McDonald’s invites questions about its food and answers them publicly.
Energy regulators, policy makers and companies are also embracing online channels to ramp up transparency. The Alberta Energy Regulator recently launched its Compliance Dashboard with data on incidents, investigations and compliance.
There’s also the Government of Alberta’s Oil Sands Information Portal, providing visibility into all things oil sands. The BC Oil & Gas Commission’s FracFocus, devoted to hydraulic fracturing information, and the Canada-Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Monitoring Information Portal, offering results from the Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring, are other digital examples.
Transparency in oil sands
Suncor, too, is committed to transparency. Every year, we publish a report on sustainability full of information about the social and environmental impacts of our operations.
We even offer a live video stream of Wapisiw Lookout, a former tailings pond which is being actively re-vegetated and reclaimed. (Our oil sands base plant tours, by the way, let you check out Wapisiw Lookout firsthand.)
Of course, earning or rebuilding public trust requires much more than one-way public disclosure of information. That’s why so much effort is being put into communication tools that deliver information and help support conversations about energy.
They may involve some work, but websites, dashboards and reports are important tools in helping organizations move the needle on trust.
We’re taking a break
Like many of you, OSQAR will be taking a break over the Easter holidays. Look for our next post the week of April 6.