Wherever we operate we invariably have a significant presence, both in physical scale and as an employer in the local economy. We want our communities to have confidence that we will anticipate and address the impacts we have on the local community or environment, see us as partners in local socio-economic development, and trust us to have an open dialogue when challenges arise. Some stakeholders call this a ‘licence to operate.
Our target is that all our major sites understand, plan, implement and monitor effective and meaningful community projects and grievance mechanisms in line with our he implementation of our new Community Relations Procedure.
In each country of operation we aim to publish an annual sustainability report with details of local community priorities, engagements, investments and economic contributions. At a corporate level, we disclose our group economic contributions annually, including payments to employees and suppliers and the sums we invest in community projects.
To achieve SD outcome 8, we have established four principles of community engagement:
- Understand the context and the impacts of our work, including impacts on land and water, air quality, employment opportunities and complex issues such as use of security, recruitment, ethnicity and impacts of migrant labour.
- Listen to our communities to understand what they think is important, and how they want to engage with us.
- Develop environmental and social programmes that best meet the objectives of the community and our operations, including community investments and partnerships to support local development.
- Communicate regularly and accessibly about our contributions.
Understanding and managing our impacts: Mutual understanding of issues and opportunities is reliant on transparent and regular communication with stakeholders. We define a stakeholder as any person or organisation that impacts, or is impacted by, our activities. This can include employees, contractors, customers, suppliers, government representatives and regulators, non-governmental organisations, local residents and community organisations, the media and investors.
Listening to stakeholders: Local operations are guided by our stakeholder engagement procedure, which ensures that we are actively working to understand the expectations, concerns and interests of stakeholders and incorporate them into business plans; and requires all sites to maintain a complaints or grievance system that is accessible to community members.
At each of our sites, we aim to establish a plan for managing areas identified as important to the community. We aim to deliver on our promises – and explain clearly and proactively when this is not possible. Where there are environmental non-compliances, we put plans in place for becoming compliant. We also work with partners to identify the best way of managing impacts and also to support and enhance our investments.
Methods of engagement are designed by local management and vary by location. In some locations such as Avilés, Spain; Poland; Dofasco, Canada, we have set up multi-stakeholder forums to discuss the issues of interest, in others will we engage more individually with stakeholders.
Community investment: Our community investment programmes around the world recognise that each community in which we operate is unique and has diverse needs. Our long-term goal is to contribute to resilient and self-sufficient local communities, which we do through initiatives such as seed funding for business development, vocational training and incubation hubs for small businesses. Our investments range from long-term, multi-partner engagements to single, immediate support focused on community resilience.
To support local economic development, for example, we have established a number of local supplier initiatives, including the Integrated Program for Supplier Development and Qualification in Brazil, the Minority and Women Business Enterprises Program in the US, and the Enterprise and Supplier Development Program in South Africa, which is supported by our ‘incubation hub’. We have also developed public-private partnerships in the US, Ukraine, and Poland.
We also work to create shared operational and community value, for example, by working on water management through the Sustain our Great Lakes partnership in the US.