How a strategic environmental planning firm is helping its global clients simplify the road to social acceptance.

Accountability drives stakeholder engagement success for Narratives CEO Somia Sadiq

Boréalis enthusiast and client Somia Sadiq is founder and CEO of the strategic environmental planning firm Narratives Inc., which specializes in regulatory permitting planning, Indigenous and community engagement, and community advisory services. With a particular interest in the application of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) to law and policy in the mining sector in Canada, Sadiq works with mining, oil and gas, renewable energy, and food processing/agricultural enterprises.

Involved from the initial concept of a project often through its completion, Sadiq and her team help organizations build their social license to operate, starting with understanding the regulatory environment but most importantly engaging with communities, NGOs and other stakeholder groups.

In the past five years,” she said, “there have been dramatic changes in how people communicate. Even – and perhaps most evident – in Indigenous communities, the best way to communicate may indeed be via Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook Messenger.”

During a recent conversation, Sadiq said: “Engaging with the multiple different stakeholder groups, from Indigenous communities to NGOs, provides critical understanding about whether or not a project will be successful.”

Who is Somia Sadiq

Sadiq, a Certified Environmental Professional (EP) and a Registered Professional Planner (RPP), launched Narratives to put into practice her vision of respect and transparent understanding among varied groups of stakeholders, which she developed through years of working with world-leading engineering consulting firms, such as AECOM and MMM Group. Sadiq named her firm Narratives because, “stories fuel our imagination and facilitate our understanding of the diversity of perspectives around us. Since every pursuit involves multiple players, success lies in listening to and understanding the stories from all those perspectives.”

More time for stakeholder engagement means more values for clients

Time spent manually tracking communications belongs to an earlier era, when stakeholder engagement was not as mission critical. Today, however, with the variety of stakeholder groups and rates of change, effective stakeholder management requires purpose-built software, according to Sadiq.

In the past, said Sadiq, it was difficult to track engagements, using just spreadsheets or trying to configure other systems to support stakeholder engagement.

Boréalis saves me about a third of my time managing data, since it automatically updates all of the stakeholder records for every engagement,” said Sadiq. “I just slap on a Bcc to Boréalis and it’s like magic – the records are updated, all the information’s in the right place, and reportable.” She also said that the engagement channel doesn’t matter to Boréalis – “text messages, phone calls, visits – Boréalis deals with all of those different communications.”

Today,” she said, “with Boréalis, there’s no excuse to not have everything documented and reportable. It’s easy to prove that you’re making or have made all diligent efforts to communicate with stakeholders. It’s easy to be accountable, which is key to the success of any project.”

Social license to operate and responsible sourcing

Gaining Social License to Operate can take months or even years, according to Sadiq. “In some cases it can take years to get permissions. For example, in oil & gas, we will make efforts to hire 500 Indigenous peoples as part of our responsible sourcing. Tracking engagements over such a period of time accurately is very time consuming and risky with spreadsheets.
Boréalis makes it simple and reportable.” For example, Sadiq said that in the course of recruiting, communication is critical to success. “When an organization commits to a community to source hires locally, it’s up to me to demonstrate that they were able to hire the agreed-upon number of people, and if not, that we’ve made every attempt to do so. Boréalis enables us to prove our communications and efforts with the potential workforce.”

Flexible analytics enable custom KPIs

According to Sadiq, with Boréalis, reporting takes a small fraction of the time it would take previously. “For my clients, Boréalis Analytics is so effective, and allows me to provide more value in less time. It also allows me to change the key performance indicators (KPIs) depending on the goals for any project.”

For Sadiq, Boréalis helps to identify the essential KPIs for her various clients. “I can decide now what KPI to look at, is it positive interactions? Negative or neutral? Total interactions? What are the patterns or styles of communications for particular stakeholder groups? What is the optimal number of engagements to achieve the goal? Having flexibility at the start of the project to define KPIs with the client is really helpful – and it helps me to be accountable for the right measures.” Sadiq feels that Boréalis allows her to give clients deeper dives into reporting. Previously, she said, she could only provide them with high-level reporting.

“The beauty of reporting in Boréalis,” said Sadiq, “is that I don’t need to think about it! In a day, I work on multiple projects, and in any given hour, I’ll have communicated with multiple stakeholders on multiple projects. With Boréalis, everything is automated so I don’t have to think about organizing the data for reporting.”

“I knew Boréalis would give me a competitive advantage, in that I’d be able to provide more value to my clients, with more accountability, in less time.” “This way I can help more companies build trust and understanding with their key stakeholders – by listening to their stories.”

Asked about her experience with the Boréalis team, Sadiq said, “They are very very responsive. I really appreciate the direct customer to client interaction that Boréalis provides. I love their service!”

Boréalis makes stakeholder engagement software simple

A representative at a conference, and what he showed me applied 100 percent to what I do. It was an amazing experience to understand how the system works, how easy it is. I’m often intimidated by technology, but what Boréalis had to offer was really easy.” As soon as she launched Narratives, said Sadiq, she had to have Boréalis.

Evangelizing effective and accountable stakeholder engagement

Overall, Sadiq says that while she considers Boréalis a true competitive differentiator, she believes in the company’s mission so much that she recommends it to her peers. “I’ve invited Boréalis to events where I will introduce them. I thought about it, but the benefit of Boréalis being the stakeholder software of choice for the industry outweighs my own business concern. I want them to continue to grow and innovate, and all of us will benefit from better Stakeholder Engagement.”

Key benefits

  • One-third less time managing data
  • Provides clients more value in less time
  • Supports Social License to Operate
  • Proves all diligent efforts have been made
  • Easy to deploy and intuitive to use

“If you truly believe in stakeholder engagement, and accountability, then you will see the value in Boréalis,” she concluded.

Key features

  • Ease of reporting
  • Flexible analytics
  • Automatic data appending
  • Automatic record updates
  • Stakeholder Information Management
driving success throught accountability
Download the Narrative case study.

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