In CSR as in many other things, the devil is often in the detail. Many participants of the Boréalis Conference 2012 recognized the need for the extractive companies to build positive and long-lasting relationships with their stakeholders. Nobody said it was an easy task, however. What can then make the difference between a successful initiative and one that’s on the verge of failure, despite all human endeavours? And what can a business do to maximize positive impacts and reduce potential conflicts?
In last year’s conference, our panelists identified avenues of analysis we would now like to better explore and share with the CSR community. Let’s mention a few:
- Compliance with legal requirements is a must, but it is worthless if you don’t have a social licence. A company has to work hard to get that licence and keep it, but if it is lost, it is difficult to get it back.
- Having a good data management is a key to improve the perception of a company, build trust with the communities and provide early warnings.
- Potential issues should be identified before they become a problem. Data management simplifies your work and helps you to follow-up on those issues.
- When dealing with grievances, managers should have these three words in mind: accountability, predictability and feedback.
A lot of questions remain, however, on how to better integrate those practices in the daily activities of the industry. Boréalis Conference 2013 , to be held in Brisbane on September 18-19, is a good opportunity to further explore these questions.
How can the industry mitigate negative impacts for the communities? Reducing impacts on the communities surrounded by mining, oil or gas projects can not only benefit these people, it can also be beneficial for a business in preventing future cascading problems. On the other hand, communities have growing expectations that they will benefit from resource activities: managing the concerns and tracking the socioeconomic involvement of a company becomes essential.
How can we maximize the positive impacts? When it comes to major projects in the extractive industry, communities generally experience negative consequences. They can be counterbalanced, in part, by community programs, employment opportunities and local economic development projects. Setting up those initiatives is a good start and it is important to have a good monitoring system to measure their effectiveness. To achieve even better outcomes for local communities requires starting earlier, improving internal processes, negotiating agreements and to do things differently. In the end, the impacted communities will always ask themselves: are we better off? Our aim is that the answer is “Yes”.
Boréalis Conference 2013 is specifically designed for executives, managers, project directors and practitioners involved in community and social performance and corporate social responsibility. Participants can expect to find up-to-date information on the ever evolving best practices in the industry, meet high level managers and practitioners, and take part in the discussions that will help define tomorrow’s approaches and practices.