The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Case study: How Stantec supports Indigenous communities

As a top tier design and delivery Canadian firm with a global presence, providing professional consulting, construction and construction management services, Stantec looks for ways to build stronger connections with Indigenous communities through strategic partnerships that leverage and empower entire communities  Tweet This! while recognising that, every community, has unique needs and opportunities.

This case study is based on the 2017 Sustainability Report by Stantec published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Meaningfully engaging with Indigenous peoples and businesses and making every effort to help them prosper, are two fundamental ways that Stantec fulfills its promise to design with community in mind. In order to support Indigenous communities Stantec took action to:

  • build Aboriginal Partnerships
  • implement an Indigenous Relations Programme

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2017 Sustainability Report Stantec identified a range of material issues, such as economic performance, energy use, environmental compliance, occupational health and safety, non-discrimination, anti-corruption, customer privacy. Among these, supporting Indigenous communities stands out as a key material issue for Stantec.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards              

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Stantec engages with: 

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement





·      Employee engagement surveys

·      Focus groups

·      One-on-one meetings

·      Integrity Hotline (third party)

·      Post-acquisition surveys

·      Diversity and Inclusion councils

·      Career Development Performance Reviews

·      Employee Resource Groups



·      Regular meetings with account managers

·      Ad-hoc meetings and calls with account and project managers and senior leaders

·      Brown-bag get-togethers to share lessons
learned and best practices

·      Client surveys, questionnaires, and requests for proposals

·      Debriefs and bidder conferences for proposed projects

·      Informal discussions at industry and professional association events

·      Joint participation on technical committees





·      Annual General Meetings

·      Earnings conference calls

·      Investor conference presentations

·      Ad-hoc meetings and calls with Investor Relations and Finance teams

·      Investor disclosure requests

·      Industry research and publications

·      Informal discussions at industry and professional association events

Communities ·      Stantec in the Community Week (across the Company)

·      Locally driven engagement initiatives (varies by region and locale)

Subcontractors and business partners ·      Subcontractor prequalifications

·      Joint project work

·      Ad-hoc meetings with project managers and senior leaders

Vendors ·      Contract negotiations

·      Quarterly business reviews

·      Ad-hoc meetings with Procurement team

Regulators ·      Interactions during project work

·      Informal discussions at industry and professional association events

·      Joint participation on technical committees



·      Informal discussions at industry and professional association events

·      Joint participation on technical committees

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Stantec engaged, through various tools and processes, with key stakeholders, asking them to identify the sustainability topics that they considered most important.

What actions were taken by Stantec to support Indigenous communities?

In its 2017 Sustainability Report Stantec reports that it took the following actions for supporting Indigenous communities:

  • Building Aboriginal Partnerships
  • For 18 years, Stantec has been the minority partner in and legal operator of various Aboriginal Partnerships. Accordingly, in 2017, seven Aboriginal Partnerships generated $16.8 million in gross revenue for Stantec and partners. Stantec’s Aboriginal Partnerships create shared value for partners, clients, and Stantec that extends beyond revenue. Stantec connects clients to local resources and offers to local Indigenous community members employment, training, hands-on skills development and direct investment, supporting economic growth. Through Stantec’s projects, Indigenous sub- contractors and employees were able to take on increased responsibility as crew leads, attend post-secondary education, and, in one case, start an Indigenous-owned environmental monitoring business. Additionally, Stantec participated in community engagement initiatives – valued at $35,000 – relating directly to the communities of its Aboriginal Partnerships and supported programmes such as Students on Ice, Polar Bike, Food First, Aboriginal Sport Circle-Youth Traditional Games, and the Aboriginal HIPPY reading programme.
  • Implementing an Indigenous Relations Programme
  • Stantec’s Indigenous Relations Programme promotes positive, productive relationships with Indigenous communities and businesses, supports diversity and inclusion, raises awareness and mutual respect, and guides planning, procurement, project pursuits and project execution. Stantec is also a member of the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business (CCAB), which promotes Indigenous relationships and an economy based on shared prosperity and, in 2017, Stantec’s vice president of Indigenous Relations joined CCAB’s board of directors. Stantec is firmly committed to receiving certification in CCAB’s Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) programme, which supports Indigenous employment, community relations, leadership, and business development. PAR certification signals to communities that a company is a good business partner, supports a workplace that is inclusive of Indigenous Peoples, and is committed to contributing to the growing prosperity of Indigenous communities. In 2017, Stantec supported Indigenous educational programmes in Canada as follows:
    • Sponsored the University of Alberta’s Indigenous Partnership Development Programme and the Indspire Youth Career Fair (an ongoing annual sponsorship)
    • Sponsored the Aboriginal Day Live initiative for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network
    • Observed National Indigenous Peoples Day
    • Participated in Orange Shirt Day to honour people who survived abuse in Canadian residential schools
    • Volunteered for Reconciliation Week
    • Sponsored 20 Indigenous students in Stantec’s Edmonton office during Take Our Kids to Work Day, providing a full day of presentations and workshops

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standard addressed in this case is: Disclosure 411-1 Incidents of violations involving rights of indigenous peoples

Disclosure 411-1 Incidents of violations involving rights of indigenous peoples corresponds to:


80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.

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1) This case study is based on published information by Stantec, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:


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