Why is this important to us?
Companies are expected to play an active part in their local neighbourhoods – to see them not just as physical locations, but as communities of which they are part, and which they strengthen over time. This is not just about giving money to community projects – though that has a role – it’s about understanding the needs and issues of local people, supporting the local economy and employment, and protecting the local natural assets that people depend on, now and in the future.
The commercial imperative
What kind of challenges do we face?
The heart of the issue here is our social licence to operate. This means developing the trust and support of governments and the people who live near our operations. It means maintaining thoughtful dialogue, without which there is a risk that our stakeholders develop unreasonable expectations of us, and even the potential for conflict. It also means dealing with issues that are our responsibility, and lending a helping hand when there are other problems, for example, giving support after a flood or natural disaster.
What do we need to do?
We need to communicate openly and regularly with our communities, so they know more about who we are, what we do, and what we contribute. By continuing to behave as good neighbours and engaging in active dialogue at local level, we can avoid the misunderstandings that can lead to disruptions and distrust. We also need to go one step further, by playing an active role in creating communities that are thriving and resilient, and making thoughtful, well-targeted contributions.
What is the potential to create value?
If we are trusted by our local communities, we will be able to work collaboratively with local stakeholders. This will help us to run successful, responsive and efficient operations, and protect and enhance our reputation wherever we are in the world.