Friday 27 February 2015

Stakeholder Engagement Series

Stakeholder Engagement Series 

Many of you have asked that I pull together some of my recent publications that deal with stakeholder engagement into a set.  Haven’t quite done that but below you have a list of articles and links to the LinkedIn Posts.

Eleven strategies for maximizing value from CSR:

From Pariah to Exemplar: Applying the six best practices

Engaging Internal Stakeholders: Seven proven strategies


CSR Communications: Eleven mistakes to avoid


Stakeholder Engagement: Six best practices


Creating a CSR Program: in eight self-serving steps


Stakeholder Engagement: Five common mistakes


Smarter CSR Budgets: Eight steps to connect budget to value


28 Expert tips on stakeholder engagement:  LinkedIn:


Don’t be an Altruistic Angel: Be transparent about what’s in it for you


13 mistakes that prevent and destroy multi-sector partnerships

Stakeholder engagement is about systematically and strategically finding the common ground where 'what's in it for stakeholders meets what's in it for me'.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Internal CSR Communications Suck

Let's be honest:  Internal CSR Communications Suck

CSR Mumbley Gook communications need to stop. Until us CSR Professionals get better at internal communications and engagement we will stay in an irrelevant sandbox away from core business activities and decisions.
CEOs, because of the broad and diverse constituents they deal with, generally get the relevance of CSR.
Too often the Finance, Operations, Engineering, Production and other functions don’t get it. They may make the right noises (because it is expected of them) but at a fundamental level they don't get the core relevance of CSR to their role and their career.
Part of the reason they don’t get it is because the CSR Pros (myself included) can’t or won’t spend the time making focused internal business cases.
The “What’s in it for me?” case must be developed and communicated across the entire organization.
It is the CSR team's responsibility to help EVERY leader and their team understand the relevance of CSR for their role and work.

There is a strong What's in it for me? for Finance, Operations, Engineering, Production, R & D and other areas of the business. If they don't know it then it is up to the CSR team to develop and communicate it so they can hear it.
Until they do, CSR will remain an outsider to the inside of the business.
·         CSR is important for Shareholders AND for all functions and divisions inside a company.
·         It is CSR’s responsibility to help those functions and divisions to understand why.
·         If they don’t, then the CSR team has failed.
If CSR is on the outside looking in at company operations then the CSR team has to take the lead to change that.  By making it clearly understood how and why CSR is directly relevant to the organization's Departments and Units, Leaders and Workers.

Some thoughts on how to do this are in Engaging Internal Stakeholders in our CSR Knowledge Centre. But don't expect all the answers there. They aren't.
Many of the answers are in your experience and insights. Look there for the stories and the business case that can help your colleagues to understand the importance of CSR for all functions and departments in your organization.
Remember, if you are not creating value with CSR then you will have a tough time to communicate value.  But, when you do create value with CSR, be sure to communicate it.
Not communicate in a Socialwash sort of way, but it a way that can be heard and accepted.
CSR is about value.  Figure out the value for them and communicate it clearly to your internal stakeholders.

When we get the internal CSR communications right not only will our work be easier and our external CSR projects work better and have more societal impact.  Our company and our shareholders will capture more value too.
Get CSR value right AND get the internal and external communications right and get ready for an exciting ride.

Sunday 15 February 2015

Four Strategies for Local Content Success

Local content has emerged as one of the most pressing issues facing business in emerging markets. 

Rightfully so.

Planned and executed properly, local content is the most sustainable and the most cost-effective mechanism for delivering value into local communities and economies.

It has the best local value to investment ratio (ROI) and even when done poorly it can have significant positive impacts.

Effective local content strategies have two focus areas that are common across industries and geographies.  These are employment and procurement. 

Get them right and your project has the foundation for a strong and resilient social license.  Local employment and procurement can also be a key component of your project’s overall economic viability. 

Get them wrong and your project will struggle with social and community issues and, quite often, overall project viability.

Developing local employment and local procurement is one of the best leveraged CSR investments that a company can make.  Think about it.

The jobs have to be filled.  The goods and services have to be procured.  If they aren’t procured locally then very little of the money from them will circulate in the local economy. 

If they are procured locally then virtually all of the money circulates in the local economy and has a significant multiplier effect.

Even if local content creates additional costs the socio-economic impact derived from those extra costs represent a significant return on that investment because they are leveraged by the overall employment and procurement spending.   

And, often there aren’t extra costs or the additional costs are front-loaded and the benefits last over the life of the project.

If a project isn’t maximizing local employment and procurement then it will be bringing in more outsiders.  This costs extra and can increase community tension beyond the lost employment and contracts.  (Think of an influx of single young men coming to work at a project site and the impact on local families and communities).

Successful local content strategies can not only result in strong local relationships, they can also help with a project and company’s relationship with local and national governments and regulators as well as with developmental and advocacy NGOs.

But, success is not easy 

Common constraints that must be overcome to have success with local content include:

·         Projects are often based in remote locations with little or no experience with industrial employment or even salaried employment of any kind. 

·         Levels of literacy are low and household economies are often subsistence based.

·         There is little or no effective infrastructure to provide training and support to assist potential workers with the transition to industrial employment.

Local residents desperately want opportunities to participate in the project's economic activity through jobs or contracts.

·         Local businesses and prospective entrepreneurs lack the skills and experience to be effective providers of goods and services.  This includes both technical skills and business management skills.

·         There are no economic vehicles in the local economy that can enable effective participation in the larger contracts and opportunities. 

Locally owned businesses lack the financial, operational and management capacity to compete for larger contracts, even with extensive support and assistance from the project/company.

The bulk of the overall value of contracts for goods and services cannot be broken down to a size that can be digested by local businesses and entrepreneurs. 

This means that by default the local economy is effectively prohibited from participating in the lion’s share of opportunities other than as sub-contractors.

·         Programs to facilitate local content development are under-resourced and focus on short-term impacts rather than the structural issues that inhibit optimization of local content.

Below are four strategies that can help achieve local content success. 

They probably won’t all work all of the time.  And some may have no applicability to your particular project or venture. 

But, you may find some useful, or they may stimulate you to think of other strategies and approaches for optimizing local content.

1.       Think Cap Ex when budgeting
Developing and implementing successful local content programs isn’t cheap.  Getting to success often means overcoming significant gaps in skills and capacity, and sometimes requires development of organizational and institutional infrastructure.  This can be costly and time-consuming, yet can provide valuable long-term results.

Investments in local content development pay back over the life of the project.  Yet most budgets treat them as operating expenses, not capital expenses.  Why?

In my experience it is mostly because nobody has challenged finance and accounting on how they are treated.  But, it does make a difference.  And it should be treated as a capital expense.  The payback is over time, generally over life of project.

Local content investment contributes value over the life of the project. Yet, it is seldom budgeted as a capital expense.  This results in chronic under-funding.

When local content development is treated as an operating expense it is generally under-resourced and focused too much on short-term rather than life of project impacts.

There is a strong case to be made for including local content development budgets early on in a project’s overall capital budget.  This can provide the resources and the time-frame to make it work effectively and will pay off handsomely over the life of the project.

2.       Development Corporations
The scale of most procurement opportunities is simply beyond the financial, operational and organizational capacity of local businesses and economic institutions.

Local businesses are simply unable to scale so as to take advantage of the opportunities the project presents.  And, if they were given them they would not have the capacity to manage them effectively.

This was a challenge faced by many Indigenous communities in Canada. 

Development of major industries and projects on their traditional lands meant that there were large contracting and business development opportunities available to them.  But, their local businesses and economic structures did not have the scale to take advantage of them.  The opportunities and benefits went to outside providers.

A development corporation model evolved over time and proved to be very successful at enabling local capacity to bid on major contracts and activities. 

In the development corporation model geographic or tribal based populations come together and form for profit development corporations that are collectively owned.  They are able to operate at a scale whereby they can engage professional management and be better able to meet the needs of modern industry.

In many cases development corporations would recognize that the scale of the contracting opportunity was so large that they needed to bring in additional operational and financial expertise.  This was often accomplished via joint-venturing with firms that could bring the missing pieces to the opportunity and supplement the strategic local content advantage that development corporations had.

Kitsaki Development Corporation – Local Content Success Story

An early example of using a development corporation approach is the Kitsaki Development Corporation, a business development vehicle created by the Lac La Ronge Indian Band in northern Saskatchewan, Canada.

Kitsaki Development Corporation is an successful example of a development corporation being used to overcome gaps and issues that inhibit local content success

The regulatory structure that was put in place to enable the development of the Uranium industry in northern Saskatchewan sought to facilitate local content development.  One of the ways it did this was to put in place a requirement that local content providers be given a specific bid preference.

Kitsaki used this preference, along with a well-executed joint-venture strategy to secure an initial contract.  It has used that strategy across a range of focused opportunities and created a venture with annual turnover in the ½ billion dollar range (see details on their website here.

The Lac La Ronge Indian Band used a Development Corporation (Kitsaki) and a strategic partnership approach to create NRT Trucking and capture a major transportation contract from a local mine.  Using the same tactics they have grown Kitsaki into a substantial economic force, generating many hundreds of jobs and contract opportunities for band members and significant revenues and profit

In the mid-1980s the bulk transportation contract was coming up for Key Lake Mine.  Kitsaki recognized the opportunity and also recognized that while it had a local content advantage, it did not have operational experience in the bulk transport business.

Kitsaki, which had astute professional management, sought out a partner that could bring the missing pieces to the venture.  It partnered with Trimac Transportation, the largest bulk transport firm in North America. 

The Jt Venture that was created, Northern Resource Trucking, which was 51% owned by Kitsaki, went on to become the largest bulk transport business in Northern Saskatchewan and today provides services to industry and communities across the region.

Kitsaki used a similar approach to take advantage of other strategic opportunities in the local and regional economy.  See more here.

This development corporation and joint venture model has proven very successful for many Indigenous communities and tribal organizations across Canada and the United States.

A key to the sustainable success of development corporations is a strategic approach that leverages local content advantages and meets the needs of industry and other markets, often through partnerships and joint ventures.

An equally important key is effective governance and political management that give the development corporation operational space and keeps it free from political interference and manipulation.

3.       Pre-employment training
Advertise for entry level workers at a remote project and you are overwhelmed with applications.  And, the process of sifting through them is inefficient, often bringing in poorly suited applicants and leaving better suited ones off the list.

Some applicants find that the structure of industrial employment and its impact on family and life simply doesn’t fit for them.  In other cases, immersion in a structured institutional setting can bring out traits that were not evident during the screening and hiring process

Too often the end result is high turnover of employees and frustration on the part of employees, managers and the company. 

A well-structured pre-employment training program can address these issues.  It can dramatically reduce turnover and provide the broader community with enhanced life-skills and livelihood potential.

It works by establishing a short-term program (typically 6-12 weeks) where a pool of prospective employees are brought into a program that prepares them for industrial employment and helps them to determine if industrial employment is for them.

The program typically consists of a range of components that are directly and indirectly related to the anticipated employment.  

They include elements related to the lifestyle transition that often accompanies a move from a subsistence lifestyle to salaried industrial employment.  Some of the programming, such as household financial literacy and household economic transition involve spouses and sometimes children.

At the end of the pre-employment training the trainees have a much better sense of what all is involved in industrial employment and whether that is a fit for them and their families.

Pre-employment training helps companies to know prospective employees better and to make smarter hiring decisions.  It also helps prospective employees to understand whether industrial employment is a fit for them.  Even those that don’t move into industrial employment leave the program with valuable life and livelihood skills.

Pre-employment training gives employers the opportunity to know prospective employees over a much longer time-frame and across broader range of situations. 

At the conclusion of the program those deemed the most suitable for industrial employment go into a pre-screened pool that the company can select from when it next needs to hire new workers.  This pool can also be made available to contractors and others, helping to improve secondary and tertiary level local content success.

The end result is that those who are hired and brought on board are much more likely to stay and succeed.  A big cost saving for the company, big value for the local economy and a big frustration avoider for all!

Even those that are not brought into the pre-screened pool benefit. They have learned new skills and are better positioned to secure other employment or develop alternative livelihoods.

In many cases pre-employment training can be undertaken by more than one project.

4.       Invest in education and training institutions
The skills, attitude and expertise gap between where local workers are at and where they need to be can be huge.

Especially when the local content strategy is focused beyond simply bringing in entry level workers and instead has a target of seeing local employees at all levels and across all functions in the organization.

There is a need for effective education and training programs to systematically bridge gaps and help both employees and employers.

While it may seem simpler to either do the training in-house or bring in outside experts to do the training, this can be a short-sighted approach with longer term costs.

Most times there are local polytechnics and other local training institutions.  And often they don’t have the capacity to develop and deliver the type of training needed and at the quality level required. 

Investing in creating the local capacity to develop and deliver effective skills training can pay dividends over the life of a project. Partnerships between local skills training institutions and their more developed international counterparts can help ensure a steady supply of local workers with the required skills AND develop the capacity for the local institution to provide a range of other pragmatic skills and livelihood related programming.

Local training institutions are local content too.

Rather than simply pass by the local institutions in favour of bringing in a qualified institution or instructor, or even doing it in-house, companies should carefully consider investing in developing local training capacity.

This would include facilitating partnerships between local training institutions and international partners who can help them to both develop and deliver effective programming to meet current requirements, and develop the institutional capacity to do so in the future.

Facilitating partnerships between local training and educational institutions and highly experienced international counterparts can help create short term solutions AND put in place longer-term local skills training capacity

While this may be slightly slower and more expensive in the short term, the improved local capacity will pay many dividends, including lower costs later on and an improved local capacity to train people for a range of livelihoods and skills (thus reducing dependency on the dominant industrial employer in a region).


These four strategies are no guarantee of success.  Local content is not an easy puzzle to solve.  But, following those strategies that can apply effectively to your project can help improve your chances of success, and can make a huge difference for local families and communities and, ultimately, your shareholders.

Saturday 7 February 2015

Some of my recent tweets on CSR and Sustainability

A few people have asked me to put my recent tweets into a document so here they are.

Follow me here if you want to get future tweets in real time.

Win/lose = Lose/lose. Sustainable business wins by helping others to win too. Broad value propositions = long-term sustainable value. Read more at

11 Sustainable U.S. Wineries. Feel good about feeling good. Everyone wants more reasons to buy & enjoy good wine. Great article by Mary Mazzoni of Triple Pundit

Increasing costs. Increasing complexity. Uncertain value generation.
Is this what your CSR looks like?

National Hockey League in top 20 of EPA’s Green list. Global first for a sports league!  

Read 2014 NHL Sustainability Report  to see more of the league and the team’s sustainability efforts. And, the NHL and its teams and players do even more.

The players, teams and league make a major social impact with their support for communities, youth and causes. And, they do it very quietly and without calling for attention. This analysis argues that they could create more value for themselves if they weren’t so quiet about it.

CVS continues tobacco free support. Great alignment of social value and corporate core.  @EileenBooneCSR @CVSHealth It is great to see companies step up to the plate on creating social value and do it in a smart way.

The CVS contribution of $5 million to Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is great alignment with their corporate core. It is great to see fewer corporate CSR contributions that look like they were selected on a whim by the CEO’s new mistress! Smart companies align CSR outreach and investments with their corporate core.

Done something amazing in sustainability/CSR last year?
Tell the World!  Enter 2degrees Champions Awards. Let the world know about it and give you feedback.

Market driven waste management. Financial & environmental performance.
Great article by Alexis Petru @triplepundit

CSR Beyond Beads n Trinkets. Think before you spend.
See more #CSRKnowledgeCentre

CSR: Create, don’t just donate.
CSR should create value for shareholders AND society
See more #CSRKnowledgeCentre

Patagonia-Aligning CSR with brand, market & impact Authenticity pays!
Great short read  by @marcstoiber

Recycled water into beer!
Sustainability that is easy to support  @LeonKaye @triplepundit
Perfect for the Super Bowl

Progress not perfection.
This and other efforts are adding up to big differences in supply chain sustainability  

Stopping Hazardous Chemicals from Entering the Supply Chain By Padma Nagappan — February 01, 2015 The $11 billion parent company of brands such as North Face, Timberland, Nautica, Lee and Wrangler has debuted a chemical management initiative that could be a game changer for the industry, as it scales the program across its vast supply chain and invites the industry to take advantage of it.

Super Bowl and sustainability.
Quick insights and history at  Courtesy @GreenBiz

Mars Rocks on Supply Chain Sustainability
Mars continues to push on sustainable supply chain (beef, pulp, paper, soy)  @marsglobal @EUAfricaMonitor

It was great to see them winners at the EU-AFRICA Chamber of Commerce CSR Awards Gala in Brussels in November.  See video

And congrats to EU-AFRICA Chamber of Commerce creating the event to showcase the work of Mars, Newmont, DHL and the other winners

ICMM opens commenting period on updated Indigenous Peoples and Mining Good Practice Guide @ICMM_com

Did you know the NHL is a global leader in sustainability?
Full carbon offset for one  more @NHLGreen GREAT leadership

Is CSR about distributing, creating or sharing value or all three?
Discussion & thoughts here.

Role of mining in national and emerging economies.
Interesting @ICMM report

CSR SWOT: discover risk, value and more
See new LinkedIn Post if interested

Well done is better than well said!
CSR Communications must be free of Socialwash or Greenwash. 11 Mistakes to avoid

Food for thought – 13 Sustainability trends for 2015  by Richard Mazzola Quick read

Viewpoints for Business in 2015 - Progress and Purpose.
Interesting Webinar discussion from @GlobeScan