This is a continuation of our series on an Effective Global CSR Vision. Read Part Two: My Head, Heart and Hands.
So now you’re gaining the confidence and enthusiasm of your employees, who see that you are responding and listening to them. It’s your first step towards attaining a Local License to Operate.
This is not a paper. It is not an official license, and you cannot get it ‘issued’ from an entity, institution, the government or a third party company. You can only get this type of license by having your company build relationships, on multiple levels, in an ethical manner.
Your employees are an important first part of these relationships. Now you extend these “listening” relationships to other important parts of the community. It would most likely include important NGO partners on the ground. Which NGOs have a significant presence? Have you spent the time listening to them, working with them, hearing their concerns and goals?
Who are the important government officials? How do they view investments of any kind, donations, volunteering, product donations, cause-related marketing in the community? What is important to them and their local constituents? How will you approach them? We’ll discuss this last point more in a future article on cultural sensitivities and considerations. However, even making the outreach will show you care to include them in how your company establishes itself, both through its profit making center, and its community-minded investments.
One other extremely relevant consideration might be tribespeople. That’s probably not what comes to most of your minds. Does it really matter? It most certainly does, as local tribespeople often know the ins and outs of the environment, important cultural considerations, rituals and appropriate approaches to getting both forprofit and nonprofit projects completed. If we ignore their wisdom, you could potentially face thousands if not millions of dollars in backlash. We’ll cover this area in the future through some good lessons learned regarding the Aschuar Tribe in Ecuador, and how they ended up working with companies.
So the only way to ‘register’ your local license to operate is to begin cultivating long-term, meaningful relationships. It’s a process of earning your certificate, of having meaning and integrity in your interactions.