Expert Insight

Engagement key to ESG management

Technology has central role in effective communication with stakeholder groups

March 25, 2021

Robin Bolton

Expert Insight
February 21, 2020

Meaningful stakeholder engagement is key to successful management of environmental, social and governance (ESG). Taking into consideration how stakeholder groups are affected by particular ESG issues that relate to any given organisation is critical in setting the focus of sustainability reporting and programmes.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 guidelines encourages corporate engagement with stakeholder groups in such categories as civil society, customers, local communities, shareholders, providers of capital, the public sector, suppliers, employees, and trade unions.

Depending on an organisation’s unique characteristics, stakeholder engagements could include discussions on issue areas such as: climate change, energy, water, waste streams, human rights, labour rights, biodiversity, protection of natural resources, supply chain behaviors, protection of indigenous peoples, anti-corruption policies, anti-competitive behavior, product stewardship, regulation, and other ESG issues. Employee safety, human resources development, diversity of workforce and management (and board) are also important issues for many stakeholders.

A stakeholder engagement process needs to be based on recognised and accepted standards

If these conversations with stakeholders are executed constructively, companies can better understand what they want, when they want it, how engaged they are and how a companies’ plans, and actions will affect their goals. Furthermore, companies can improve their communication and rethink their strategies and operations.  

Engaging constructively with mining-industry stakeholders is thought to require a so-called ‘softer’ skills set than miners have traditionally demonstrated. This is partly because softer skills have been peripheral to the core disciplines needed to be successful. But this has changed: ESG investing has grown roots; communities are more regularly finding their voices; governments want greater assurances around responsible practices; and employees want to work for companies that live up to these higher standards.

There are three guiding principles to keep in mind when engaging stakeholders:  

1. Adequate engagement

2. Transparency

3. Sustainable responsiveness.

A stakeholder engagement process needs to be based on recognised and accepted standards such as IFC and AA1000. It is also vital the data is well managed and secure. Often, technology presents benefits as well as challenges. It is important to work with potential shortcomings – connectivity and technology infrastructure – to reap the benefits of technology and allow it to be an enabler of rapid response.  

Technology can help

Technology can be used to reduce the administrative and reporting burden, enabling sustainability teams to invest more time on strategic matters.  

The right technology system must be able to cater for many stakeholders, a range of stakeholders’ information, and sensitive data companies need to protect.  

The benefits of using technology to manage stakeholder engagement and ESG reporting are:

• Automation of social performance management, that increases efficiency and reduces cost

• Standardisation of ESG best practice processes

• Visibility of progress against commitments on a real-time basis

• Visualisation of data and generation of monthly reports at a click of a button

• Notifications and reminders to complete tasks can be automated

• Increased accountability and audit trail of social responsibilities  

• Increased security of data and information.

What is being asked of miners today is a departure from what most executives have been used to, however, it is manageable. With the right approach and appropriate use of technology, the industry can not only better manage stakeholder relationships, but improve decision making to drive greater successes across the whole business. This should be embraced.

IsoMetrix is a commercial partner, helping to build and support the Mining Journal Stakeholder Engagement programme

Expert Insight
March 25, 2021

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