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About this report


This is Golder Associates’ second Sustainable Development Report. The main objective of this report is to share with our stakeholders where we are in our journey towards Sustainable Development, a journey that started a few years ago and has involved many people in the organisation. As in our previous report we have measured against external indicators in accordance with the sustainability reporting guidelines prescribed by the Global Reporting Initiative™ (GRI).

The report, themed “Breaking New Ground”, puts a greater emphasis on the issues considered of greater materiality for the company, and particularly describes our activities and plans to maintain our financial health, promote the highest standards of ethics and integrity, improve our health and safety culture, develop and maintain our client base, embed sustainability principles and practices in our projects and activities, and manage our reputational risk.

Our journey towards sustainable development was significantly invigorated in 2011 with the approval of some key policy and planning documents. This report presents the good progress made in 2012 against our targets set for 2015 in most of the key materiality areas, and identifies the areas where we didn’t make as much progress as we anticipated.

In other words, in 2012 we “broke new ground” in some areas, but came up against some hard places where we weren’t able to get as far into the earth as we would have liked. This report has been conceived mainly for the web, and it has been designed to ensure an optimal experience from various electronic devices. We made this choice to minimise material and energy consumption and to ensure a richer reader / viewer experience.


In 2012 the leadership of the company finalised and shared two comprehensive documents that define our position and aspirations with regards to Sustainable Development: “Our Commitment to Sustainable Development” and “Sustainable Development Desired State”.

Our Commitment to Sustainable Development is a concise document in which we define our role in the current development scenario and our position with respect to the key elements of our business: our people, clients, services, governance and organisation. The Desired State provides more definition around our sustainable development goals and specific targets to the end of 2015.

We measure our progress against our goals through the annual Sustainable Development Report. The Report is structured in alignment with the Commitment and Desired State documents, to ensure consistency between what we stand for and want to achieve, and what we measure and present to our stakeholders.

Each section of the Report references the relevant statement from the Commitment while more specific targets and goals defined in the Desired State are presented throughout the Report under the heading “Towards 2015.”


As a global organisation that is one of the leaders in its field we want to present our performance in a way that is transparent, understandable to all stakeholders and comparable to other companies. Therefore we have chosen to report according to the Global Reporting Initiative standard (GR3, 3.1), aiming to achieve a Level B report.

Our report goes into as much detail as possible with respect to issues identified as priorities as a result of our materiality analysis. We have data, performance results and anecdotal stories related to our commitment to Health and Safety, the importance we place on ensuring workplace diversity, and how we develop our people through training and technical community building.

On the environmental side our data and performance results focus mostly on energy and greenhouse gas emissions. We have provided anecdotal stories about our contributions to our communities, as well as how we are incorporating sustainable development principles into the work we do for our clients. Some of the targets we have set for ourselves are not yet completely defined in quantitative terms. This is something that we will strive to improve with each report we do.

The report refers to the calendar year 2012, and can be considered our 2012 annual report. Unless otherwise indicated, the information contained in this report includes all Golder companies operating worldwide in all offices owned or leased by Golder. Joint ventures, temporary project offices, and minority owned subsidiaries have not been included in this report. We will continue to evaluate our reporting scope in the coming years to make sure we report on what we believe are the most representative Golder operations.

All the data presented in this report has been generated according to internal management procedures; the financial data is subject to external verification and auditing.


Our key stakeholders include: employees and their families, employee owners, clients, suppliers, business partners, competitors, regulators, communities, NGOs, and media. We engage with our stakeholders regularly through formal and informal communications, including monthly “pulse” surveys, regular client satisfaction surveys, internal sessions and blogs to engage employees in our vision and values, external social media channels, and an annual general meeting for shareholders.

As described in the Materiality section, in late 2011 and early 2012 we undertook a global initiative to learn more about our stakeholders’ views on Golder’s role in sustainable development and better understand the issues material to us.

Among our people there continues to be widespread demand for clearly defining our position and approach to sustainable development, and a strong recognition of the importance of improving our profile as an organisation that embraces sustainable development. Most people express their support for sustainable development as “the right thing to do," and suggest to elevate and emphasise sustainable development in internal communication and practices as we have done for health and safety in the past 10 years.

Our clients have largely adopted policies in line with global best practices and are regularly reporting on progress, although there is a sometimes significant gap between corporate position and operational practices that can be regarded as both a barrier and an opportunity. In general our clients have an expectation that Golder will provide knowledge, determination, consistency, and innovation in supporting their sustainable development agenda, and in some sectors they expect significant innovation and responsiveness to provide sustainable engineering services.

We are proud of our work within our communities both in Africa through the Golder Trust for Orphans and in the myriad of contributions our people and offices make to their local communities around the world. We are working on a strategy to help us capture the entirety of those contributions (data, stories, etc.) and subsequently more effectively sharing those stories with local and regional media.


In late 2011 and early 2012, we completed a full materiality analysis that considered Golder’s significant economic, environmental, and social impacts as well as the issues of greatest importance to our organisation's stakeholders.

The multifaceted process included:

  • Interviews with over 30 company leaders representing directors and senior management to explore Golder’s sustainable development impacts and opportunities
  • Focus groups with over 200 employees to learn more about the sustainable development issues most important to them and gather input toward our approach and commitments
  • Detailed reviews of approximately 50 sustainability reports published by selected Golder clients to better understand the issues material to their organisations
  • Feedback from regular client interviews regarding client satisfaction, project delivery, the value of embedding sustainable development principles into projects, and other topics
  • Review of the 2010 brand survey results, which involved over 600 clients globally and provided valuable insights into our clients’ needs with respect to sustainable development

This process identified 18 issues for further analysis:

  1. Health and safety – for our employees and other team members
  2. Ethics and integrity – in our governance and day-to-day decisions and activities
  3. Financial health – our ability to remaining financially strong and growing for current and future generations of employees around the globe
  4. Embedding sustainability – adapting our services to provide more sustainable solutions to clients
  5. Client satisfaction – the degree to which clients are satisfied with Golder, based on a set of consistently measured factors
  6. Reputational risk – the nature and extent of potential risk to stakeholder perceptions of Golder based on our sustainable development approach, commitments, and performance
  7. Human rights – protection and support of rights in the workplace, on our projects, and in the communities where we operate
  8. Employee engagement
  9. Energy – the responsible use of energy and energy sources, particularly related to energy security and renewable energy generation
  10. Community – the relationship between Golder and/or our clients and the communities where we/they operate
  11. Specialised services – services provided specifically to support sustainable development
  12. Employee ownership – Golder’s ownership structure
  13. Carbon – carbon emissions reduction and carbon management
  14. Emissions – non-carbon emissions into air and water
  15. Climate change – our impacts, risks, and opportunities associated with climate adaptation and mitigation
  16. Supply chain – our sphere of influence and potential responsibilities within our supply chain
  17. Biodiversity – the degree to which our operations affect biodiversity near our operating locations and/or project sites
  18. Water – water scarcity, conservation, management

In ranking the topics, we considered how frequently each was mentioned during interviews, focus groups, and report reviews. We then drew from the topic-specific portions of the interviews and focus groups to consider each topic in light of its impacts on Golder’s business, including opportunities, sustainable development trends, and leadership.

We assigned a total score, ranging from 10 to 20, to each issue based on feedback from our internal stakeholders (employees and managers) and external stakeholders (clients) to establish its priority relative to the other issues. Results of the materiality analysis are shown on the matrix.

During the preparation of the 2012 Sustainable Development Report we have reviewed the Materiality analysis in a qualitative way and asked a selected number of internal stakeholders if they saw any significant change with respect to the previous assessment, in terms of both the importance of the issues listed and of the emergence of new issues.

As a result a number of issues have been repositioned, but no new issue was considered relevant for inclusion in the list of material issues. The most important issues are confirmed to be Financial health, Ethics and integrity, Health and safety, Client satisfaction, Embedding sustainability and Reputational risk. Financial health and Client satisfaction have gained importance, considering the ongoing uncertainties in the global economy, as well as Employee engagement, that is at risk for similar reasons.


1.Strategy and Analysis
1.1 Statement from the most senior decision-maker of the organisation. full
1.2 Description of key impacts, risks, and opportunities. full
2.organisational Profile
2.1 Name of the organisation. full
2.2 Primary brands, products, and/or services. full
2.3 Operational structure of the organisation, including main divisions, operating companies, subsidiaries, and joint ventures. full
2.4 Location of organisation's headquarters. full
2.5 Number of countries where the organisation operates, and names of countries with either major operations or that are specifically relevant to the sustainability issues covered in the report. full
2.6 Nature of ownership and legal form. full
2.7 Markets served (including geographic breakdown, sectors served, and types of customers/beneficiaries). full
2.8 Scale of the reporting organisation. full
2.9 Significant changes during the reporting period regarding size, structure, or ownership. full
2.10 Awards received in the reporting period. full
3.Report Parameters
3.1 Reporting period (e.g., fiscal/calendar year) for information provided. full
3.2 Date of most recent previous report (if any). full
3.3 Reporting cycle (annual, biennial, etc.) full
3.4 Contact point for questions regarding the report or its contents. full
3.5 Process for defining report content. full
3.6 Boundary of the report (e.g., countries, divisions, subsidiaries, leased facilities, joint ventures, suppliers). See GRI Boundary Protocol for further guidance. full
3.7 State any specific limitations on the scope or boundary of the report (see completeness principle for explanation of scope). full
3.8 Basis for reporting on joint ventures, subsidiaries, leased facilities, outsourced operations, and other entities that can significantly affect comparability from period to period and/or between organisations. full
3.9 Data measurement techniques and the bases of calculations, including assumptions and techniques underlying estimations applied to the compilation of the Indicators and other information in the report. Explain any decisions not to apply, or to substantially diverge from, the GRI Indicator Protocols. full
3.10 Explanation of the effect of any re-statements of information provided in earlier reports, and the reasons for such re-statement (e.g.,mergers/acquisitions, change of base years/periods, nature of business, measurement methods). empty
3.11 Significant changes from previous reporting periods in the scope, boundary, or measurement methods applied in the report. full
3.12 Table identifying the location of the Standard Disclosures in the report. full
3.13 Policy and current practice with regard to seeking external assurance for the report. full
4.Governance, Commitments, and Engagement
4.1 Governance structure of the organisation, including committees under the highest governance body responsible for specific tasks, such as setting strategy or organisational oversight. full
4.2 Indicate whether the Chair of the highest governance body is also an executive officer. full
4.3 For organisations that have a unitary board structure, state the number and gender of members of the highest governance body that are independent and/or non-executive members. full
4.4 Mechanisms for shareholders and employees to provide recommendations or direction to the highest governance body. full
4.5 Linkage between compensation for members of the highest governance body, senior managers, and executives (including departure arrangements), and the organisation's performance (including social and environmental performance). full
4.6 Processes in place for the highest governance body to ensure conflicts of interest are avoided. full
4.7 Process for determining the composition, qualifications, and expertise of the members of the highest governance body and its committees, including any consideration of gender and other indicators of diversity. full
4.8 Internally developed statements of mission or values, codes of conduct, and principles relevant to economic, environmental, and social performance and the status of their implementation. full
4.9 Procedures of the highest governance body for overseeing the organisation's identification and management of economic, environmental, and social performance, including relevant risks and opportunities, and adherence or compliance with internationally agreed standards, codes of conduct, and principles. full
4.10 Processes for evaluating the highest governance body's own performance, particularly with respect to economic, environmental, and social performance. full
4.11 Explanation of whether and how the precautionary approach or principle is addressed by the organisation. full
4.12 Externally developed economic, environmental, and social charters, principles, or other initiatives to which the organisation subscribes or endorses. full
4.13 Memberships in associations (such as industry associations) and/or national/international advocacy organisations in which the organisation: * Has positions in governance bodies; * Participates in projects or committees; * Provides substantive funding beyond routine membership dues; or * Views membership as strategic. full
4.14 List of stakeholder groups engaged by the organisation. full
4.15 Basis for identification and selection of stakeholders with whom to engage. full
4.16 Approaches to stakeholder engagement, including frequency of engagement by type and by stakeholder group. full
4.17 Key topics and concerns that have been raised through stakeholder engagement, and how the organisation has responded to those key topics and concerns, including through its reporting. full
Aspects Disclosures on management approach. full
 Economic Performance
EC1 Direct economic value generated and distributed, including revenues, operating costs, employee compensation, donations and other community investments, retained earnings, and payments to capital providers and governments. full
EC2 Financial implications and other risks and opportunities for the organisation's activities due to climate change. full
EC3 Coverage of the organisation's defined benefit plan obligations. empty
EC4 Significant financial assistance received from government. empty
 Market Presence
EC5 Range of ratios of standard entry level wage by gender compared to local minimum wage at significant locations of operation. empty
EC6 Policy, practices, and proportion of spending on locally-based suppliers at significant locations of operation. empty
EC7 Procedures for local hiring and proportion of senior management hired from the local community at significant locations of operation. full
 Indirect economic impacts
EC8 Development and impact of infrastructure investments and services provided primarily for public benefit through commercial, in-kind, or pro bono engagement. full
EC9 Understanding and describing significant indirect economic impacts, including the extent of impacts.

Aspects Disclosures on management approach. empty
EN1 Materials used by weight or volume. empty
EN2 Percentage of materials used that are recycled input materials. empty
EN3 Direct energy consumption by primary energy source. full
EN4 Indirect energy consumption by primary source. full
EN5 Energy saved due to conservation and efficiency improvements. full
EN6 Initiatives to provide energy-efficient or renewable energy based products and services, and reductions in energy requirements as a result of these initiatives. full
EN7 Initiatives to reduce indirect energy consumption and reductions achieved. full
EN8 Total water withdrawal by source. empty
EN9 Water sources significantly affected by withdrawal of water. empty
EN10 Percentage and total volume of water recycled and reused. empty
EN11 Location and size of land owned, leased, managed in, or adjacent to, protected areas and areas of high biodiversity value outside protected areas. empty
EN12 Description of significant impacts of activities, products, and services on biodiversity in protected areas and areas of high biodiversity value outside protected areas. empty
EN13 Habitats protected or restored. empty
EN14 Strategies, current actions, and future plans for managing impacts on biodiversity. empty
EN15 Number of IUCN Red List species and national conservation list species with habitats in areas affected by operations, by level of extinction risk. empty
 Emissions, effluents and waste
EN16 Total direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by weight. full
EN17 Other relevant indirect greenhouse gas emissions by weight. full
EN18 Initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reductions achieved. full
EN19 Emissions of ozone-depleting substances by weight. empty
EN20 NOx, SOx, and other significant air emissions by type and weight. empty
EN21 Total water discharge by quality and destination. empty
EN22 Total weight of waste by type and disposal method. empty
EN23 Total number and volume of significant spills. empty
EN24 Weight of transported, imported, exported, or treated waste deemed hazardous under the terms of the Basel Convention Annex I, II, III, and VIII, and percentage of transported waste shipped internationally. empty
EN25 Identity, size, protected status, and biodiversity value of water bodies and related habitats significantly affected by the reporting organisation's discharges of water and runoff. empty
 Products and services
EN26 Initiatives to mitigate environmental impacts of products and services, and extent of impact mitigation. empty
EN27 Percentage of products sold and their packaging materials that are reclaimed by category. empty
EN28 Monetary value of significant fines and total number of non-monetary sanctions for non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations. full
EN29 Significant environmental impacts of transporting products and other goods and materials used for the organisation's operations, and transporting members of the workforce. full
EN30 Total environmental protection expenditures and investments by type.

 Social: Labor Practices and Decent Work
Aspects Disclosures on management approach. full
LA1 Total workforce by employment type, employment contract, and region, broken down by gender. full
LA2 Total number and rate of new employee hires and employee turnover by age group, gender, and region. full
LA3 Benefits provided to full-time employees that are not provided to temporary or part-time employees, by major operations. empty
LA15 Return to work and retention rates after parental leave, by gender. empty
 Labor/management relations
LA4 Percentage of employees covered by collective bargaining agreements. empty
LA5 Minimum notice period(s) regarding significant operational changes, including whether it is specified in collective agreements. empty
 Occupational health and safety
LA6 Percentage of total workforce represented in formal joint management-worker health and safety committees that help monitor and advise on occupational health and safety programs. empty
LA7 Rates of injury, occupational diseases, lost days, and absenteeism, and number of work-related fatalities by region and by gender. full
LA8 Education, training, counseling, prevention, and risk-control programs in place to assist workforce members, their families, or community members regarding serious diseases. full
LA9 Health and safety topics covered in formal agreements with trade unions. empty
 Training and Education
LA10 Average hours of training per year per employee by gender, and by employee category. full
LA11 Programs for skills management and lifelong learning that support the continued employability of employees and assist them in managing career endings. empty
LA12 Percentage of employees receiving regular performance and career development reviews, by gender. empty
 Diversity and Equal Opportunity
LA13 Composition of governance bodies and breakdown of employees per employee category according to gender, age group, minority group membership, and other indicators of diversity. full
 Equal remuneration for women and men
LA14 Ratio of basic salary and remuneration of women to men by employee category, by significant locations of operation.

 Social: Human Rights
Aspects Disclosures on management approach. full
 Investment and procurement practices
HR1 Percentage and total number of significant investment agreements and contracts that include clauses incorporating human rights concerns, or that have undergone human rights screening. empty
HR2 Percentage of significant suppliers, contractors and other business partners that have undergone human rights screening, and actions taken. empty
HR3 Total hours of employee training on policies and procedures concerning aspects of human rights that are relevant to operations, including the percentage of employees trained. empty
HR4 Total number of incidents of discrimination and actions taken. full
 Freedom of association and collective bargaining
HR5 Operations and significant suppliers identified in which the right to exercise freedom of association and collective bargaining may be violated or at significant risk, and actions taken to support these rights. empty
 Child labor
HR6 Operations and significant suppliers identified as having significant risk for incidents of child labor, and measures taken to contribute to the effective abolition of child labor. empty
 Forced and compulsory labor
HR7 Operations and significant suppliers identified as having significant risk for incidents of forced or compulsory labor, and measures to contribute to the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor. empty
 Security practices
HR8 Percentage of security personnel trained in the organisation's policies or procedures concerning aspects of human rights that are relevant to operations. empty
 Indigenous rights
HR9 Total number of incidents of violations involving rights of indigenous people and actions taken. empty
HR10 Percentage and total number of operations that have been subject to human rights reviews and/or impact assessments. empty
HR11 Number of grievances related to human rights filed, addressed and resolved through formal grievance mechanisms.

 Social: Society
Aspects Disclosures on management approach. full
 Local communities
SO1 Percentage of operations with implemented local community engagement, impact assessments, and development programs.
SO9 Operations with significant potential or actual negative impacts on local communities.
SO10 Prevention and mitigation measures implemented in operations with significant potential or actual negative impacts on local communities.
SO2 Percentage and total number of business units analysed for risks related to corruption.
SO3 Percentage of employees trained in organisation's anti-corruption policies and procedures. full
SO4 Actions taken in response to incidents of corruption. full
 Public policy
SO5 Public policy positions and participation in public policy development and lobbying.
SO6 Total value of financial and in-kind contributions to political parties, politicians, and related institutions by country.
 Anti-competitive behavior
SO7 Total number of legal actions for anti-competitive behavior, anti-trust, and monopoly practices and their outcomes.
SO8 Monetary value of significant fines and total number of non-monetary sanctions for non-compliance with laws and regulations.

 Social: Product Responsibility
Aspects Disclosures on management approach. full
 Customer health and safety
PR1 Life cycle stages in which health and safety impacts of products and services are assessed for improvement, and percentage of significant products and services categories subject to such procedures.
PR2 Total number of incidents of non-compliance with regulations and voluntary codes concerning health and safety impacts of products and services during their life cycle, by type of outcomes.
 Product and service labelling
PR3 Type of product and service information required by procedures, and percentage of significant products and services subject to such information requirements.
PR4 Total number of incidents of non-compliance with regulations and voluntary codes concerning product and service information and labeling, by type of outcomes.
PR5 Practices related to customer satisfaction, including results of surveys measuring customer satisfaction. full
 Marketing communications
PR6 Programs for adherence to laws, standards, and voluntary codes related to marketing communications, including advertising, promotion, and sponsorship.
PR7 Total number of incidents of non-compliance with regulations and voluntary codes concerning marketing communications, including advertising, promotion, and sponsorship by type of outcomes.
 Customer privacy
PR8 Total number of substantiated complaints regarding breaches of customer privacy and losses of customer data.
PR9 Monetary value of significant fines for non-compliance with laws and regulations concerning the provision and use of products and services.