ESG Q&A with Williams
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?
The path to our net-zero aspiration by 2050 involves a combination of immediate and long-term solutions, including investments in asset modernization, renewables, technology, and the best and brightest talent who are committed to doing what is right. Our interim goal is a 56% absolute reduction in company-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (baseline against 2005 emissions). By improving the efficiency of our operations, leveraging low-carbon solutions, and implementing emissions reduction technologies, Williams is actively working to minimize our operational Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Since 2005, we have reduced our operational emissions by 47% and are well on our way to meeting our 2030 goal.
In 2022, Williams added the Methane Emissions Reduction metric to our all-employee Annual Incentive Program (AIP), directly contributing to progress on our 2030 climate commitment goal. Creating a short-term goal that ties our methane emissions performance to compensation solidifies focus and urgency throughout the organization to reduce emissions while maintaining reliable service.
One example of how we are actively reducing Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions operationally is by minimizing pipeline blowdown emissions. We successfully implement pressure drawdown and recompression measures to lower gas pipeline pressure before maintenance or construction activities, to reduce methane released into the atmosphere. In 2021, Williams reported 68 separate blowdown events along our Transco and Northwest Pipelines where natural gas was rerouted or captured and recompressed instead of being vented. Since 2021, Williams prevented the venting of 1.6 billion cubic feet of gas due to this enhancement in operational procedure and leadership commitment, the equivalent of heating more than 38,164 homes for a year.
To track and monitor our emissions reduction goal progress, view KPIs on the Performance Data Table of our latest Sustainability Report such as annual trends of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions levels. The performance of our 2022 AIP methane metric will be available in our Proxy Statement in early 2023.
Some companies are resetting DE&I goals. How have the goals changed, and how are they measured? What operational changes have been made to support achieving the new goals? How are management and Board engaged in DE&I?
At Williams, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is not a program or human resources function, but a culture running through every facet of our business.
We have increased D&I efforts in recent years by establishing goals, embarking on several employee recruitment and retention strategies, increasing employee D&I resources and trainings and increasing D&I metric transparency. We’ve made significant progress in recent years, but our aspirations are higher.
We published our first internally focused D&I report in 2021. We continued to provide visibility and promote awareness into our diversity metrics by publishing our 2022 Diversity and Inclusion Report on our website. We further improved the transparency of our diversity disclosures by releasing our EEO-1 Survey Data reports externally for the first time in the 2022 Diversity and Inclusion Report. Our EEO-1 Survey results provide a demographic breakdown of our workforce data by job categories, gender, race and ethnicity. We also improved our efforts towards D&I by clearly articulating our strategy and creating a roadmap to increase employee understanding and engagement. We continue to benchmark against our industry and other employers to help inform future recruitment and retention strategies. We plan to enhance talent acquisition efforts by defining and implementing recruitment strategies that increase diverse representations across the organization and in leadership roles. For more information regarding our D&I goals and strategies, please review our latest D&I Report on our website.
In 2021, we reinvigorated our employee resource groups (ERGs) with the goal of driving membership and inclusion across the enterprise. Our ERGs provide formal and grassroots opportunities for dialogue, information sharing and networking to promote a more inclusive culture for all employees. Current employee resource groups include Asian Pacific Islander, Black, Latin, LGBTQ+, Men Advocating Real Change, Working Parents, Veterans, Young Professionals, Women of Williams and Native, with over 1,400 memberships. These groups function in a flexible and responsive way to the changing needs of our organization and our employees. Employee committees also help facilitate new initiatives and growth opportunities. For example, an employee-led Black History Month committee planned our enterprise-wide Black History Month program.
Williams’ leadership embraces a diverse and inclusive workforce. Our CEO’s pledge of support for the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion Coalition outlines a specific set of actions that he will take to cultivate a trusting environment in which our employees feel comfortable and empowered to have conversations about D&I. These actions include implementing and encouraging ongoing dialogue and sharing strategic inclusion and diversity plans with our board of directors. Our senior vice president and chief human resources officer (CHRO) is responsible for D&I at Williams. The CHRO regularly reports directly to our CEO and annually to our board of directors on D&I efforts. Both senior executives also sit on the Diversity and Inclusion Council, which serves as the governing body over enterprise-wide D&I opportunities. Williams’ CEO chairs the Council, which includes members such as our executive officer team, organizational and operations leaders, and individual employees selected via a self-nomination process. The Diversity & Inclusion Council intentionally includes representation from diverse geographic regions, leadership levels, functional areas, and demographics. The Council created a comprehensive view of our current workforce and developed an internal metrics dashboard to help identify gaps, track progress and prioritize improvements in hiring and retention.
We know we still have work to do – and priorities shift as the world continues to change – but we’re proud of the progress we’re making and look forward to even greater strides in the future.
Do you or do you plan to have a specifically designated ESG committee on the BoD?
At Williams, sustainability starts at the top and cascades down the entire organization. Our investors and other key other stakeholders continue to place importance on sustainability topics, and it will continue to be a priority of our board.
Sustainability oversight responsibility belongs to each of our board committees as well as to the full board of directors. The governance and sustainability committee maintains primary responsibility for providing oversight and guidance on ESG matters. The environmental, health, and safety committee maintains responsibility for reviewing, monitoring, and reporting to the full board on the company’s environmental, health and safety performance, including setting and reviewing key metrics and compliance with applicable regulations. This committee also shares oversight with the compensation and management development committee for employee health and development. The audit committee reviews the top risks identified by the company’s strategic risk assessment process, which may include risks linked to climate change. The compensation and management development committee annually reviews the succession plans for the executive officer team, including the overall talent management process, which considers candidate diversity. This committee also modifies the compensation program, as needed, to help attain our sustainability related goals.
For more information on our board of directors and board committees, please visit our website Corporate Governance webpage.