ESG Q&A with ONE Gas

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Caron A. Lawhorn
Senior Vice President,
Chief Financial Officer 
ONE Gas

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Environmental

 
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You have a net zero by 2050 goal, but what are your interim milestones? What are the KPI’s we can track to monitor your progress?

We share in the aspiration of reaching net zero emissions, and we believe ONE Gas and our assets will play an important role in our industry’s transition to a carbon-neutral energy future. Reducing our methane emissions is key component of our business strategy. We are actively evaluating, with the help of industry experts, our opportunities for further emissions reduction, including through continued pipeline replacement and protection, improved operational practices that reduce leaks, replacing geologic natural gas our on system with renewable natural gas, increased energy efficiency and more. We are also evaluating future opportunities and technologies, such as the utilization of green hydrogen.

 

We report emissions from our pipeline system annually, including our fugitive methane emissions rate.  We also report the reduction in emissions we expect to achieve through our vintage pipeline replacement program.

 

As our strategy evolves, we'll measure and report milestones with expanded disclosures so investors and third parties can track our progress through our website and Annual ESG Report.

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Is your company’s non-financial reporting treated with the same rigour (standards, auditing etc.) as financial reporting?

We think of ESG reporting in the same context as financial reporting. We intentionally structured our dedicated ESG resources to report to me to create the same level of rigor, accountability and oversight as we have with our financial reporting.

 

While our ESG reporting is still relatively new, we have diligently worked to ensure our  data is accurate and complete with a clear tie to our everyday business activities. As we provide additional disclosures and data, we are taking care to develop a robust reporting framework that enables us to continue to have confidence in the data we report. We have also engaged our internal audit team to assist with data validation. As the process matures, we will evaluate whether to add third-party auditing to our process.

 
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What do you think investors should expect to see from companies – in terms of reporting, transparency, and accountability – when it comes to net zero targets?

Investors should expect companies with net zero targets to have a well-articulated long-term strategy with clear milestones, not just lofty targets with insufficient details to understand how a company will execute on that strategy.

 

We aim to provide clear insight into our emissions reduction strategy, including the specific actions we plan to take and describing our assumptions, before setting any targets, milestones or deadlines. In the meantime, investors can see our commitment to a cleaner energy future through expanded disclosures, improved data quality and reporting transparency through our website and Annual ESG Report.

 

Social

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What is the most important component of the “Social” part of ESG to you and how do you plan to enforce or strengthen it? 

While the “social” part of ESG extends to customers, communities and suppliers, it begins with fostering a safe, inclusive and diverse company culture for our employees. We’ve seen firsthand how an inclusive work culture where all viewpoints are welcome encourages a sense of belonging and creates an engaged, high-performing workforce and an environment where top talent wants to work. One way we measure effectiveness is through annual employee engagement surveys, where we’ve seen a marked improvement in scores for five consecutive years.

 

To continue strengthening our inclusive culture, we’ve developed an Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) strategy that assesses our processes, policies and practices with transparent metrics. Over time, anticipated outcomes include increasing diverse representation throughout our organization, improving our job candidate experience, enhancing our mentoring opportunities and fostering an environment that allows every employee to experience a sense of belonging.

 

Governance

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Do you or do you plan to have a specifically designated ESG committee on the BoD?

Rather than a designated ESG committee, the entire ONE Gas Board of Directors plays an active role in supporting the Company’s ESG strategy and has ESG oversight as part of its governance guidelines. Our Board oversees the company’s policies and procedures on a wide variety of ESG matters, including its ESG disclosure strategies.

Additionally, our Board committees include ESG as standing agenda items where they consider and recommend appropriate programs, policies, and procedures related to matters that support the Company’s ESG goals and objectives.