Corporate Social Responsibility : How Boréalis is helping clients achieve it

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In order to achieve Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) companies must take into consideration for example human rights, fair operating practices, transparency, etc. These can rarely be implemented independently as in many cases they overlap.

In my opinion it’s more practical if companies aim at making a project sustainable from the start since that approach will link all the core subjects of social responsibility.

Early stages

Typically when a company comes to us because to incorporate CSR in their practices, we first look at their needs, the scope of the project, timeframe available for the implementation, the quality, the milestones to achieve and the investment.Based on that analysis, we determine the kind of solution that is better suited for them.

We then establish the goals in order to determine the possible scope, time and cost or constraints. For example, there might be some constraints in the field with respect to resettlement or feedback coming from community consultations might have to be incorporated in the solution before going ahead with the project.

We also have to consider some of the main issues the company might be facing and that are sector dependent. For example stakeholders will have concerns regarding water quality and overall environmental impact.

We then evaluate how the project can help the country reach global objectives such as Millennium Development Goals, like fight against poverty and malnutrition. Most likely, these objectives are the same or contribute to Corporate Social Responsibility, since they are global.

Planning and Designing

In the designing and planning phase, the project has to be better defined in its scope, time and cost.

During that phase, constant assessments on diverse areas are needed. Some issues are not always obvious at first glance and events will happen during the course of the project that will have a direct impact. For example, a social assessment is might be done to foresee if the project may adversely affect poor people or minorities in adverse ways during an involuntary resettlement. The impact of use restriction of an asset such as a height restriction when planting trees under a power line after a resettlement might be harder to foresee.

After each assessment we will be able to find out whether the project can be implemented or not; assessments are also conducted throughout in the implementation phases especially if there is a sudden change in scope or in the policies at the government level.

It’s also important to keep an eye on positive and negative impacts. Strategies can be adopted to minimize as much as possible the perceived negative impacts and to augment the measures that create positive ones.

A risk analysis has to be performed to alleviate for example the cultural shock of employees arriving in the country. The political and economic situations of the country have to be taken into account. Based on this we can suggest probable mitigation measurements.

Stakeholder analysis is necessary to evaluate possible actors (environmental minister, other mining companies, etc.) and their role during the project. Implementation arrangement proposals have to be designed based on the previous analysis.

The design of the project should also be strengthened by lessons learned through other experiences. We then need to look at all of the components of the project, such as financial, procurement etc. Each component ought to be deliverable, like a package, in order to define the future organization, and to more easily monitor the project. When each part is well defined we avoid the risk of overlap of the components even though they will need to constantly interact. The goals must be monitored, and indicators must be defined. Employees must also understand that their job and activities have an impact and will be used by other components of the company and even outside.

Producing a good documentation will help during staff turnaround to explain specific tasks and procedures.

If the company is satisfied with the project design, then negotiation will be carried out with financial institutions, governments and owners of the company. The implementation could take place, closely guided by our team during the whole process.

When the project is over, we should evaluate whether the Corporate Social Responsibility objectives were achieved and write a completion report to have a reference for future client or projects.

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