Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Union Gas Limited was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017) and Top Employers for Canadians Over 40 (2016):
- Union Gas employees and retirees volunteer and support community improvement projects across Ontario through the "Helping Hands in Action" program -- the parent company also supports employee efforts with financial grants (up to $1,000) to purchase needed supplies and materials
- Union Gas offers excellent financial benefits, including signing bonuses for some employees, year-end bonuses and a share purchase plan available to all employees -- also helps older employees prepare for life after work with retirement planning assistance, contributions to matching RSP, defined benefit and defined contribution plans (depending on position) and health plan coverage that extends to retirees (with no age limit)
- Union Gas provides maternity leave top-up payments for new mothers, including adoptive moms, and supports employees with older kids through a generous academic scholarship program (to $5,000 per child)
Union Gas works to bring more women into operations
There are many jobs in technology and the trades where women are traditionally under-represented. But through its Women in Operations initiative, Union Gas is working hard to change that - and succeeding. Since 2013, Union Gas has doubled the number of women in its technical field roles.
Now Kirby Skinn-Jones is eager to persuade still more women that the trades represent not only a viable career path, but an interesting and exciting one. She's speaking from experience. As a Utility Services Manager, Skinn-Jones heads a Union Gas team based in Windsor, Ont., that installs gas meters, does maintenance work and responds to emergencies.
"These are boots-on-the-ground, makes-things-happen kinds of jobs," says Skinn-Jones. "It's great work for anybody who likes to troubleshoot, solve real-world problems and make sure customers have what they need. And while you always have to keep safety in mind, every day is different, which just adds to the appeal."
A focus on Women in Operations is one of many ways that Union Gas demonstrates an all-encompassing commitment to diversity and inclusion. It's a fundamental yet evolving value that today embodies all the differences among employees, including life and work experiences, perspectives, cultures, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, age, or disability.
"Our aim is to build a positive work environment where employee differences are valued, where employees are empowered and diverse communities are connected throughout our organization," says Mike Shannon, Vice President, Distribution Operations.
To achieve this, Union Gas has a broad range of programs and policies designed to attract, retain, engage and advance the careers of a diverse workforce. The company, for instance, sponsors employee-led resource networks such as its Cross Cultural Awareness Network, Business Women's Network and the Alliance for LGBT employees. It also engages with non-profit partners like the research-intensive women's organization Catalyst and the Canadian Centre for Diversity & Inclusion to keep abreast of best practices.
At the same time, Union Gas strives to maintain positive relations with the 400-plus communities in northern, southwestern and eastern Ontario where it provides about 1.4 million residential, commercial and industrial customers with affordable natural gas. This includes a long-standing commitment to building mutually beneficial relationships with the province's Indigenous people.
Shannon says that diversity in turn provides many benefits to Union Gas. "Diverse employees bring varied skills, experiences and perspectives that help us achieve superior business results," he adds. "Diversity makes us stronger now and will help us meet our future market needs."
This last point is key, as Union Gas is on a capital expansion of historic proportions. Based in Chatham, Ont., the company already has the largest underground gas storage facility in Canada and maintains 69,000 km of pipeline. It is investing $2 billion in some 14 complex projects, in progress or planned by 2019, to expand that infrastructure to provide affordable natural gas to Ontario customers.
For her part, Skinn-Jones has taken advantage of a number of the opportunities that Union Gas offers. As an undergraduate studying chemical engineering at the University of Waterloo, the Wingham, Ont., native interned during her work terms for a total of 16 months before joining the company full-time in November 2014. With the recent promotion to her current role, she's about to take a course the company provides for new managers.
In all, Union Gas has created an environment where she feels totally supported by management, her colleagues and her team. "There's a strong sense of community," says Skinn-Jones, adding, "When a company is loyal to you, it's easy to be loyal to the company."