8. Active and welcomed member of the community

Wherever we operate, we invariably have a significant presence, both in physical scale and as an employer in the local economy. Active two-way engagement is therefore critical. We must understand the expectations of the local community and they must understand ours.

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.

Our stakeholders' expectations

It’s not only local communities that have higher expectations of the role companies should play – the media, governments, NGOs and wider society all expect companies to behave as responsible corporate citizens, and contribute positively to social and economic development.

The outcome we need

We are welcomed as good neighbours, actively engaging at a local level, and making a positive contribution to more resilient and thriving communities through our day-to-day operations as well as through thoughtful well-targeted investments.

Achieving our new outcome

We are now asking managers at country level to create a sustainable development plan to progress against all the 10 outcomes. This will be informed by their analysis of stakeholder expectations, as well as the long-term social and environmental trends affecting their operations. The work we have done at a global level using feedback from our local management has identified the importance of being a welcome and active member of the community, so that we can respond adequately to the challenges of sustainable development. So, one aspect of each country’s sustainable development plan will be their responses to local stakeholder expectations: how they will achieve better dialogue, better understanding, and better relationships with the local community as one of their critical stakeholders. If we achieve this, then our investment in the community will be a more meaningful contribution to their longer-term needs.

What's new?

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