On Monday Petro-Canada and Suncor announced they were merging. These two giants of Canada's oil sands and energy production might have an industry in common, but beyond that they dissimilarities are quite pronounced.
Petro-Canada, a former Crown company has a, "risk averse corporate culture," according to Deborah Yedlin, business commentator on CBC Radio's morning show. Suncor, a younger company both in business age and corporate practise will have to find some common ground to move forward. One area could be around their corporate giving program.
Each company reports how much they have invested back into community. Petro-Canada goes as far as sharing its evaluation metrics. Donations by Petro-Canada totalling approximately $15Million (2007) were spread across several programs around the globe. This is just slightly higher than the dollars reported by Suncor at almost $14Million predominantly in Alberta and BC. In addition to the dollars invested, both companies have an employee volunteer program and matching program. As well, both companies are part of the London Benchmarking Group (LBG) Canada; a group of companies using the LBG Model to improve the management, measurement and reporting of their corporate community involvement (CCI).
With giving levels near equal it boils down to social vision. How do you take two very different approaches to community and work, integrate them while at the same time improve the social fabric of where the new company operates? There might be some concern by the charities that are supported that their funding could be cut. There is also the possibility that the larger company will absorb both budgets.
What I hope happens is that the new company will look at where there is overlap or duplication and facilitate the coming together of organizations. For example, Inn from the Cold, The Homeless Foundation and the Calgary Drop-In Centre are supported by one or both companies. Instead of looking at these individual agencies, perhaps this new company can look at the systemic issues leading to homelessness and the value of improving the living standards of lower-income/poor Albertans. This doesn't mean that these organizations should fold, it means that they will have to hold a mirror to themselves and ask, "Am I doing the best, or if we check egos at the door and work on the systemic problems, will we actually achieve our missions and mandates. It might mean that in the long-run one of us might not be in existence..."
This corporate merger could mean good things for the charitable sector - it could be the catalyst for facilitating mergers within the non-profit sector as well.