Earning “Social License to Operate” Requires Meaningful Investment in Communities

Resource development companies need to make meaningful investments in the communities they impact to earn “social license to operate,” experts told a GLOBE 2014 session.

Along with hiring and training a local workforce and creating institutional capacity in communities, companies need to “walk the talk” and communicate in a way that builds trust, panelists told a March 26 session on “Earning the Social License to Operate,” moderated by Jacques Benoit, senior vice-president, environment and water, at SNC-Lavalin Inc.

“Actually doing something in the community is critical,” even after obtaining regulatory approval for a project, said Jamey Fitzgibbon, senior vice-president, resource management, Christina Lake and special projects, at MEG Energy.

“It’s not an issue of gifts (to the community) anymore, it’s an issue of building institutional capacity,” agreed West Cragg, professor emeritus in the Schulich School of Business at York University.

Philanthropy and corporate social responsibility, while valuable, are both concepts that are focused on the corporation, he noted.

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