The dictionary defines a "steward" as someone who manages the property or financial affairs of another person. At Swift Energy, we are keenly aware that we are responsible for the resources that have been entrusted to us, and we also know that our responsibility to others goes well beyond the financial results we achieve. Our late founder, A. Earl Swift, once wrote:
"Business has never been about making money. It is about meeting human needs. Making money is a necessary component of survival, but it can never provide the real reason for existence. We all have to breathe to live, but we don't live just to breathe."
Our founder took a broad view of our responsibilities as stewards, and as an organization, we share his commitment. In 2008, we enshrined stewardship into our mission statement, where it is now defined as follows:
Protecting health and safety and preserving environmental quality
Maintaining high standards for ethical conduct
Enhancing economic vitality of the communities where we operate
Respecting and trusting one another as we carry out our roles and responsibilities
In the paragraphs below, we describe how we are meeting our obligations in these four areas.
As an independent oil and gas company, we recognize that we have a responsibility to all of our stakeholders to integrate health, safety, and environmental management processes into all our work activities. We continually emphasize to all of our employees, as well as all our contractors, that we must meet our operational and financial objectives without endangering the environment or the health and safety of those around us. In order to meet this goal effectively, we emphasize prevention rather than merely responding to problems after they occur, and we seek to continuously improve our processes so that health, safety, and the environment remain among our highest priorities.
As stewards, we are also responsible for the cultural values handed down to us from others. Our founder saw Swift Energy as a company of role models, where moral leadership was expected of everyone. In one of his last papers, he wrote:
"Accepting the mantle of moral leadership is not only the right thing to do, it is the prerequisite for sustained success. In even the smallest organization, no leader can personally monitor and motivate everyone. If an organization is to compete in a dynamic marketplace, its goals and controls must be internalized as vision and values. Only internalized direction can be flexible enough and decentralized enough to cope with today's complex competitive landscape…"
At Swift, we have taken that message to heart. Our company's culture is built around seven core values of stewardship, improvement, performance, passion, integrity, trust, and teamwork. We actively seek to live out those seven values in our day-to-day relationships with one another, and we try to serve as role models for those values in our relationships with our vendors, contractors, and the broader community.
As good stewards, we also realize that we have a responsibility to the communities where we operate. Part of that responsibility is to provide good jobs for people living in those areas, but we have to give back to those communities in other ways as well.
We were recognized by the March of Dimes as one of their top fundraisers in the Houston area, and we contribute annually to many other charities such as The Houston Food Bank, Big Brothers & Sisters, Interfaith Care Partners, Covenant House, Boy Scouts, and The Palmer Drug Abuse Center.
We also support the arts with recent contributions to Houston's Theatre Under the Stars, the Houston Symphony, the Alley Theater, and the Houston Ballet. As individuals, many Swift employees have participated in charitable endeavors such as: the Komen Walk for the Cure, the MS 150 Houston to Austin Bike Race that raises funds for the fight against multiple sclerosis, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, and other charities focused on the Greenspoint area in Houston, such as providing toys to underprivileged children at Christmas time.
Finally, in our role as good stewards, we believe we have a responsibility to team with our employees to help them realize their individual goals just as they help us to achieve our corporate objectives.
We try to provide challenging and rewarding opportunities for our employees, and we want to support them in lifelong learning. As a result, we continue to invest in employee education and training. Each year we align our training programs with the technical and business skills that enable our employees to become more productive and competitive within the ever-changing oil and gas industry. Through the years, we have supported our employees in obtaining undergraduate and graduate degrees, including certifications in technical, administrative, business and financial disciplines. We also invest in the future of our industry by promoting education of children within the community with scholarships and contributions to the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
We know that good stewardship and good business go hand in hand. Only when we protect the environment, behave ethically, give back to the community, and invest in our people can we hope to achieve sustained economic success. Our emphasis on stewardship has served us well in the past, and we intend to emphasize good stewardship as long as our doors remain open for business.