Winning support for your project in the court of public opinion

Without a clear strategy, any concerted challenge from the community in which a company operates or from an activist group could threaten your social, economic, political and regulatory legitimacy to operate.

The key lies in building a relationship based on trust, transparency and mutual benefit to all parties that is established through honest engagement with all stakeholders, including governments and local communities.

Outlined below are Phillips Group’s key tips in building a strategic approach to deliver success:

  • Genuinely understand the nature of the community. This includes identifying community values, the amenity residents enjoy, their way of life, and how and when the community comes together to support causes and events. Companies need to show respect by acknowledging and understanding what is important to the local community.
  • Consistently display trust building behaviours across the organisation. This includes listening to residents, acknowledging the importance of what binds the community together, delivering on commitments, becoming part of the community through participation in activities, showing support in times of need, and being mindful of how residents are treated. Importantly, contractors’ behaviour is often equally important as company behaviour, and companies need to carefully decide how they manage the interaction between contractor staff and the community.
  • Concurrently implement a mix of community engagement tools, ranging from information provision via consultation to involvement and collaboration. Importantly, community engagement should not be confined to the approvals or EIS phase, but be implemented across the project lifecycle. The selected community engagement tools must however consistently display the trust building behaviours described above.