Disclose to Communities
World Bank Photo Collection (Flickr)
A company's disclosure and transparency on the management and governance of key sustainability impacts is essential to stakeholder engagement. It can demonstrate that companies are accountable to the local communities, understand and prioritize their concerns and handle their grievances. In addition, it can be used to initiate an ongoing dialogue with local communities, build trust and secure their social license to operate.
This is particularly important in extractive industries and infrastructure.
Natural resource projects can exacerbate inequalities, corruption, and conflict – IFC research on 50 natural resource projects found losses of about US$20 million per week from delays due to conflicts. The strategic use of disclosure and data can help foster transparency and accountability, enabling more equitable benefit sharing and enhancing its license to operate.
Infrastructure is another sector where disclosure and transparency are critical to successful community engagement. Community relations and mitigation of environmental and social impacts are central to the successful construction, operation, and public benefits of roads, bridges, ports, airports, and other large infrastructure projects.
Social license is more important than ever to communities and the mining industry. The shift to low carbon power generation will be mineral intensive and create significant opportunities for the poorest of nations to develop their natural resources.
Research shows that increased transparency and accountability in the delivery of infrastructure projects reduce waste, mismanagement and corruption and generally to produce higher value for the public.
Companies can use multiple channels for disclosing to communities, including:
- Annual report (integrated or sustainability report);
- Specialized report or communication, either for a specific group or a particular sustainability issue;
- Direct communications as part of the stakeholder engagement process.
At a corporate level, the company's annual report includes information about the interests and concerns of its key stakeholders and how they are integrated into the company's strategy and value-creation process. It also provides information on the governance of the stakeholder engagement process – how to identify stakeholders, address their grievances, and board oversight. The annual report should also provide performance information on material sustainability issues for the company, providing stakeholders with outcome data.
For more information, please see our Beyond the Balance Sheet Disclosure and Transparency Toolkit, and specifically the sections on Stakeholder Engagement and the Governance of Stakeholder Engagement.
In addition to corporate-level information and data disclosed in the Annual Report, companies may provide disaggregated, site-level information relevant to a specific community, industry, or issue. This can facilitate an authentic dialogue at the local level.
Below are some valuable resources for more in-depth community disclosures.