Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019), Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2018), Top Employers for Canadians Over 40 (2019) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 8, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why BASF Canada Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019), Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2018), Top Employers for Canadians Over 40 (2019) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
- BASF Canada helps employees prepare for the future with retirement planning assistance, employer contributions to a defined contribution pension plan and health benefits that extend to retirees (with no age limit)
- Additionally, BASF Canada invests in ongoing employee development with a generous tuition reimbursement program, offering $25,000 annually for graduate programs and $15,000 annually for undergraduate programs
- BASF Canada directs its charitable efforts towards initiatives that focus on ecology, health and safety, and science education -- the company also maintains a formal policy to encourage employees to volunteer in their respective communities, providing 1 paid day off to volunteer each year
BASF Canada finds good chemistry in diversity
Chemical producer BASF Canada serves a wide range of industrial customers in the agricultural, construction, automotive, energy, mining and other sectors. It's also part of the global BASF organization, based in Germany, which has locations in 80 countries. With its operations spanning so many regions and involving so many different people, the company recognizes the importance of diversity in every aspect of its business. "Diversity is a defining characteristic of Canada," says Marcelo Lu, President of BASF Canada, which is based in Mississauga, Ont. "We see the diversity in our customers and in our society and we try to reflect it in everything we do.
"For example, we've been working on positions for women in leadership and starting positions - 50 per cent of new hires are women - and developing contacts with Indigenous communities through hiring and scholarships. When hiring, we focus on diverse candidates and diverse interviewing panels, so candidates feel comfortable from the start."
The diversity of opportunities for career development at BASF Canada appealed to Marie-Hélène Lamarre. A year and a half ago, after working in various roles in business and corporate development at companies in the energy and pulp and paper industries, she became a business development manager in BASF's Canadian Growth Team, where she deals with customers and colleagues all around the country and even the world.
"My position is multi-matrix," she explains. "We aren't focused just on selling but also on sustaining customers. Since BASF is large with many different functions, we coordinate internally with all the business units to make sure our customers are heard.
"I love this part of the job. Mostly I work virtually with customers across Canada from my base in Montreal, but I also travel to meet with them. Some customers have head offices abroad so we're in contact with them internationally as well. However, most of my international calls are internal - we collaborate with our BASF colleagues all over the world. We're all connected by the same goals."
In addition to diversity, another priority for BASF is optimism, says Lu. "We're a solutions company and we approach problems faced by our customers and by society with a feeling of optimism that we have the people and the ability to find solutions - whether it's about water, carbon footprint, renewables or other ways of addressing sustainability through innovation.
"This message is something we're using to engage and empower our people and customers. My job is to break down barriers and silos and legacy structures, give people more decision-making authority and ownership."
From Lamarre's perspective, this approach is working. "I really do feel empowered at BASF. For me it's important to be sure I can do what I'm asked, and I know I can do that here. We have the resources and tools we need - we're micro-entrepreneurs within a large company. I can cross barriers and ask questions, and I find myself supporting colleagues to do the same."
The company also offers a benefit program tailored to every stage of life, including parental leave, education, career planning and support, mentoring and retirement.
"We're proud of the benefits and compensation we provide but there's much more than that," says Lu. "We foster work-life balance, a sense of purpose, and we reward and recognize excellence."
Asked what she likes best about working at BASF Canada, Lamarre says, "I like that the chemical industry is agile and fast-moving, and this company is dynamic and diversified. I enjoy that the work isn't routine but very diverse."
'Talent is in everyone' - BASF builds a coaching culture
Wayne Barton was pleased to be nominated to participate in the new Internal Coaching Program at BASF Canada, but he wasn't prepared for the impact it would have on him.
"The program turned out to be nothing like what I expected. I was really interested in coaching and I expected the training to be instructional and about mentoring, but it was so much more than that," says Barton, who is Manager of Research and Commercial Development - Agricultural Solutions, working out of BASF's Canadian headquarters in Mississauga, Ont.
"It's a different paradigm. You start from the idea that the person you're coaching has all the answers. I know from my own experience as a manager that my team of experts already has the knowledge, but when they come in with a problem, sometimes in the rush of business it seems easiest to offer a solution or throw out suggestions.
"Now, as a coach, I help them find the solution within their own experience. The solution comes from them. It's empowering for me to challenge them and elicit that learning, and of course it's empowering for them as well. The program is truly inspiring, the best training I've ever had. It will make me a much more effective leader."
Barton was one of the first cohort of managers to go through the new coaching program, which is the first of its kind in North America for BASF, a chemical producer with operations in 80 countries.
The powerful, experiential learning process is part of the company's approach to building a coaching culture to help its people learn new things more quickly and adapt to change more effectively, says Terri Howard, BASF Canada's Director of Human Resources, who was instrumental in bringing the program into the company after taking a similar course externally three years ago.
"BASF has an overarching philosophy about employee development: 'Talent is in everyone.' We invest heavily in this space," she says. "Through coaching we can help employees maximize their personal and professional potential at every stage of their careers. When we support them in reaching their potential, it helps us meet our corporate goals."
Now that the first group of participants, including Barton, has completed the program, they will begin coaching others throughout the organization.
"We're getting the word out with a full communications plan, including quarterly webinars about coaching, our internal newsletter and a web page on the company intranet," Howard says.
The program consists of four training modules lasting three or four days each, separated by periods of a few weeks to allow participants to apply on the job what they've learned. As an additional value for coaches, their hours of training can be used to gain accreditation from the International Coach Federation.
"Coaches like me will be available to others who need us within the company. Coaching can be conducted in person or remotely. Listening is a very important part of the process and sometimes you can listen more effectively over the phone," says Barton, who has been with BASF Canada for 20 years.
He joined the R&D team at the company's research farm in London, Ont., soon after graduating from the University of Guelph, then moved to head office in Mississauga, where he worked with overseas colleagues and gained experience in marketing and management. Now, as leader of the agricultural R&D team, he's responsible for early-stage research through to commercialization.
"It's a very dynamic and exciting place to work, and the Internal Coaching Program is a reflection of my experience at BASF," Barton says. "The company is willing to invest in the long-term success of its people."