Al Monaco recognized with Haskayne Alumni Award

Enbridge President and CEO Al Monaco was recognized on Oct. 15, 2020 with a 2020 Alumni Award by the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business.

Please see below for his acceptance speech.


Thanks for your comments Jim and your great stewardship of the school.

I was very lucky to be part of Haskayne and I couldn’t be prouder to be an Alumni.

Thanks to the Chancellor, Victor and Gordon for saying nice things about me.

But it’s most important that I thank my wife and true partner Laurie.

It’s because of her that I was able to attend the Haskayne MBA.

I was in the part time program and working full time.

Laurie (who had her own accounting career) carried the load in raising our 3 kids at the time.

And it’s because of her that we have 3 wonderful sons that we’re proud of.

She’s been supportive on so many things, including my role at Enbridge.

I’ll use these few minutes to talk about something that’s been important to, and we’re all talking about.

No, it’s not about energy, our economy, or Canada’s future, but it’s foundational to all of those things - and that’s Diversity.

And how diversity is such a big part of any organization and leadership today.

Today leaders need to lead on social issuaes like gender and ethnic and racial diversity;

Society expects it and so do your stakeholders - employees, communities, customers and your shareholders.

I think about leading on diversity in 2 ways:

First, diversity is really about fairness and equity and that should be part of your values.

As a leader you don’t need to just agree with it, you need to work on it and make it what you stand for.

Leading through fairness and equity provides an environment where your people feel safe, so they can thrive and grow – without worrying about their gender, ethnicity, race or the group that they belong to.

Leaders need “to go to school” on this to become aware of the biases.

I’m a big believer in training and education, especially at the management and Board of Directors.

The biggest learnings I’ve had come from sitting across from people in the groups I mentioned…

….listening carefully to their personal life experiences, their stories of racism, gender bias and how they’ve been marginalized and made to feel inferior, or excluded.

It’s heart-wrenching when they explain how they really fear for their children because of the biases that they themselves went through.

And it isn’t just about the overt acts against people, but the micro aggressions that creep into day-to-day life.

It’s only by listening that leaders understand how privileged they’ve been in their lives.

It’s critical that we watch for and root out bias and how women, people of color, and other groups, experience discrimination.

Second, diversity is also about diversity of thought and recognizing it as a competitive advantage in your business.

It’s clear from a lot of research that diversity leads to better decision making, innovation, agility and retention.

Take your own team - think about how differently you look at a problem when you approach it from new angles around your table.

When people have different experiences and backgrounds, diversity of thought translates into better outcomes (pretty powerful).

Final thought….

George Floyd’s death has made society think hard.

So, let me share 5 ways that leaders can make a difference in their business.

#1 – be honest about where we’re at, and admit society is steeped in inequality.

There’s a ton of evidence to support that (incarceration rates, poverty, representation, pay).

Once your people absorb the facts they buy in that change is necessary.

#2 – before you change anything, make sure you know what you’re talking about.

You do that by speaking directly to affected groups inside and outside your organization.

Listen carefully, ask questions and be prepared to be uncomfortable.

#3 – educate and train people leaders to identify and act on unconscious bias.

#4 – as leaders, use your voice.

Leaders and companies can’t solve every social issue, but there are some that you need to make your voice heard on, and diversity is one of them.

#5 – Less platitudes, more action.

Devise a concrete plan that includes targets and changes to recruitment and hiring practices.

Then measure progress and tie this to compensation.

In sum, diversity is about fairness and equity, but it’s also entirely aligned with business performance and your stakeholders.

I encourage everyone to think about this within your own organizations and what you can do to make a difference.

Thank you.