|John Dramani Mahama: Fewer CSR stunts please|
Mahama recently told mining companies operating in Ghana not to use corporate social
responsibility (CSR) as a populist stunt just to gain public applause. (see article here)
industry will be thinking ‘but we are spending tens of millions of
dollars on CSR’.
be thinking ‘it’s about time the Government called them out’.
are doing well’.
will be thinking ‘yes, companies need to take care of all these things for us’.
right. And they are all wrong. CSR is a new phrase with many different faces
and too often little common understanding.
to make it work.
Sept 2013 spoke to the need for business, community, government and NGOs to
share responsibility for the success of CSR – you can see it on Slideshare here)
and globally are generally getting better at being good corporate citizens,
trying to work more collaboratively with communities and support meaningful
local development (of course, there are always some that are not doing good and
this reflects poorly on the rest).
while they are getting better, many industries, including mining in Ghana, do
not have a good long-term history of CSR.
And communities where the industry has been active for decades are still
impoverished and living with poorly functioning infrastructure. (there is an
important discussion around where industry’s responsibility ends and government’s
begins but that is for another post)
of years/decades of little or no social investment by industry stick around and
influence thinking, even when industry starts to be much more responsive.
works of the present.
governments pull back services and budget in areas where industry is active,
leaving a vacuum in the provision of public services and infrastructure. Often industry is blamed if the vacuum isn’t
industry are both spending on public goods like health care, education, roads,
etc. but are not working together and are
ending up with very sub-optimal impact.
organizations, industry, governments and communities end up in positional
stances and can’t break through to reach common ground or find ways to
collaborate and maximize social and community value.
there are good examples (and yes, there are still bad examples too)
Resources, who operate two gold mines in Ghana, recognized that facilitating
non-mining related livelihoods was important for long-term community
development. It set up an Oil Palm
business development venture, provided several millions in start-up funding ($1.8 million by 2009), committed to ongoing funding of $1.00 for every
ounce of gold produced.
with the community to support and develop local palm oil producers, by providing
capital, infrastructure, training and support. The end result is many families have a sustainable livelihood and the
ongoing investment commitment by Golden Star means that it can keep expanding
and supporting more producers and families.
with the German development organization GIZ, which has a clear and responsive
process for partnering with the private sector to optimize development impacts
from private sector investment and operations.
|Responsible mining is becoming more mainstream|
recognized the importance of expanding the skills of its employees and engaged
an international training firm (SIAST) to train local workers to an international standard, and to provide
the workers with an internationally recognized welding certificate.
this as risky (would the internationally certified workers leave to work
elsewhere) Newmont recognized that the overall value created by this project
was good for Newmont, good for the workers and their families and good for
the Ahafo Project graduated with an internationally recognized certificate and
an improved ability to contribute to Ghana’s growth and development. Ghana Web Write-up
examples of successes, and, of course, many examples that didn’t work as well.
have been spending increasing funds on CSR it has often not spent it with an
eye to creating community and shareholder value. Too often it is simply throwing money at
social and community issues without strategy, collaboration with governments or
effective management and monitoring of results and impacts.
the same people that are diligent and focused in managing ‘normal’ business
investments and operations; setting up reporting and management systems,
tracking progress, improving efficiency, etc. can forget all of this when it
comes to their CSR investments.
CSR spending can often be very inefficient in terms of producing results, for
companies or for communities. Lack of
strategic collaboration with other stakeholders compounds this inefficiency.
CSR, value for communities, value for shareholders and value for governments
doesn’t just happen. It takes effort and
commitment from all stakeholders.
creating value. It takes a strategic and systematic approach that facilitates
collaboration and optimizes value for all stakeholders.