Skip to main content



Third Edition, Available in English, French, Spanish and Chinese

Click on the tabs below to access the language versions

A compendium of concrete good practices to security and human rights challenges aimed at companies, security providers, civil society, national regulators and other practitioners


4.3. Internal Alignment and Coordination on Stakeholder Engagement

a) Senior management may not recognise the importance of or time and resources required for engaging constructively with communities.


Good Practices*

Develop a shared understanding internally of the value of stakeholder engagement

  • Ensure senior management understand the risks of not putting in place a long-term sustainable stakeholder engagement strategy (e.g. commercial risks, investor-related risks, reputational risks and legal risks). (Shift: 10-11) (See Introduction to Chapter 4)
    • “Translate” social performance issues into other “languages” spoken in the company: the languages of business risk, of costs or of technical business processes.[24]
    • Present data about costs of community conflicts (e.g. percentage of staff time invested in managing conflict, lost productivity due to delays).
    • Provide case studies on the consequences of poor stakeholder engagement. (OECD 2015: 42)

Promote greater involvement of senior management in social issues

  • “Ensure a commitment to meaningful stakeholder engagement features in corporate policy” and is visibly endorsed by senior leadership within the company. (OECD 2015: 16)
  • Create senior, cross-departamental, decision-making platforms when operating in high risk environments. (Shift: 12)
  • Establish a system that promotes the integration of stakeholder views into decision-making at managerial level. (OECD 2015: 18)
  • Create opportunities for senior management to interact directly with communities, ensuring that company leaders are educated on how to engage in a culturally appropriate way. This is the best way for senior management to understand community concerns, and to make decisions that are mutually beneficial to the company and communities.
  • Ensure potentially serious risks are escalated to senior level. (Shift: 12)

Integrate social performance into the bonus structure and career paths for all staff, in particular for senior management (GIR: 203)

  • Develop Key Performance Indicators related to community engagement and include these in the performance reviews of all managers.
  • Ensure that work to establish good community relationships is rewarded through the payment and bonus systems of the company.
  • “Use contracts to enforce standardisation.” Attach a code of behaviour for community engagement as an annex to employees’ contracts. (GIR: 204)
  • Integrate community issues in company staff career paths, by ensuring that all up-and-coming company leaders are assigned a job in the community relations department sometime in their career. (GIR: 203)
  • Inadequate coordination between company departments (in particular between security and community relations departments) on stakeholder engagement may result in conflicting policies and processes.

Good Practices*

Make stakeholder relations a collective responsibility (IFC: 103)

  • Develop a shared understanding of the value of stakeholder engagement. (See Challenge 4.3.a.)
  • Communicate the stakeholder engagement strategy internally. Every business unit needs to be aware of the strategy and understand why the company is committing time and resources to this endeavor.
  • Provide training to all staff on social performance and community relations issues and related corporate policies and processes.
  • Develop “an induction module on community affairs for every new staff member. Such modules raise awareness about how every employee affects community relations, set out some do’s and don’ts for staff and company behaviour and explain the types of services external relations staff can provide to support other departments.” (GIR: 202)
  • Train security officers “to ensure that the company’s approach to security is based on approaching communities as partners, rather than treating them as risks, to the company.” (GIR: 202)
  • Involve technical teams and security personnel in dialogue with communities as a way to ensure that community concerns are properly addressed and incorporated into programme design and decision making, as well as in security arrangements. (IA-ICMM: 21)
  • Ensure that good community relationships are rewarded through the payment and bonus systems of the company. (See Challenge 4.3.a.)


Promote alignment and coordination across the business in all decisions and activities that concern or impact on stakeholders (See Challenge 4.3.a. and Challenge 4.3.c.)

  • Review policies and processes throughout the company and integrate emerging stakeholder engagement good practice, to ensure effective respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.
    • Ensure corporate policies meet the needs of specific country operations and respect national laws.
    • Review potential legal, regulatory, and contractual requirements for stakeholder engagement in close consultation with relevant departments (e.g. legal, public/government affairs). “It is important to compare any formal or informal company policies on consultation, transparency, and information sharing against requirements by regulatory bodies and lenders, to ensure that (the) engagement strategy will meet all the necessary obligations.” (IFC: 114)
    • Review policies and processes through a community lens “to identify ‘low hanging fruit’ ideas for how operational activities can improve company-community relations” (e.g. procurement process). (GIR: 203)
  • Manage stakeholder engagement as a business function. Develop a single well-defined strategy for stakeholder engagement with “a clear set of objectives, timetable, budget, and allocation of responsibilities.” (IFC: 8) (See Challenge 4.1.b.)
    • “Identify critical points in the life of the project where stakeholder engagement will be needed, and determine who will deliver these actions and how they can be integrated with core business functions.” (IFC: 99)
    • Ensure consistency in company communications to external stakeholders.
    • Establish a system for recording and tracking information relevant to stakeholder engagement.
    • Develop and maintain a commitments register. It should contain timeframes for action and assign responsibility to the appropriate individuals, business units or implementing third party (which in some cases may be the contractor, an NGO or local government agency).
  • Ensure that internal decision-making, budget allocations and oversight processes enable effective responses to future impacts. (GPs: 21) This should include the establishment of direct reporting lines to senior management. (See Challenge 4.3.a.)
  • Institute a human rights working group that oversees the day-to-day implementation of the human rights policy, including a grievance mechanism and remedy system. 
  • Develop indicators in consultation with human rights experts “to enable ongoing monitoring of human rights risks and of the effectiveness of business processes for identifying and managing those risks.” (Shift: 9)
  • Hold routine ‘risk and opportunities’ analysis meetings between project managers, geologists, community relations personnel and security personnel. (PDAC-CDA: 7) On the basis of this process,
    • Produce a crisis management plan and an emergency response plan.
    • Build a systematic approach to integrate the findings of the impact assessment and act upon them to prevent and mitigate negative impacts.[25]
  • Ensure that those company departments that impact human rights are held accountable for their actions.

Give prominence to the community relations function

  • Transform the community relations function “from firefighter to internal service provider.” Organise meetings where community relations managers “explain the types of services they can provide to each department.” (GIR: 201)
  • Develop a policy to ensure that all new projects are reviewed by the community relations department before they can be implemented. (GIR: 202)
  • Develop coordination procedures between the community relations and the security departments within the company, with the community relations department as the focal point for any interactions with local communities.
    • Ensure that the community relations team is constantly kept appraised of the company security assessments and is involved in the design of new security measures, in particular if the latter are likely to have an impact on communities.
    • Ensure the community relations team engages with communities to explain security arrangements and the company’s human rights policies, as well as how to report in case of security-related concerns or grievances. (See Challenge 4.2.c.)
  • Establish community liaison offices and ensure liaison officers are known and available to the community. The community relations team should include a mix of locals and non-locals, since sometimes community members may prefer to talk to an ‘outsider’.
    • Involve communities in the selection of local liaison officers.
    • Sponsor training on cultural understanding, dialogue and mediation skills for community liaison officers. (IA-ICMM: 21)
    • Ensure community liaison officers “have the authority to negotiate on behalf of the company. This requires a clear reporting structure and clarification as to which decisions they can take unilaterally, and which are to be passed on to higher levels within the company.” (IFC: 102)
    • Require liaison officers to report all relevant information back to the company.
  • Ensure the community relations budget is realistic. Establish a budget that covers at least the basic systems and protocols, such as “a local content policy, a community-monitoring mechanism, regular (quarterly) public meetings in communities, an effective grievance procedure, etc.” (GIR: 203)
c) Companies may risk conflict with communities if their contractors do not follow the company’s policies on stakeholder engagement. 


Good Practices*

Consider the contractor’s role and activities as part of the risk and impact assessments (See Challenge 4.1.a.)

In the Request for Proposals (RFP) require that applicants (i.e. contractors) provide the following information (based on SCG 3-4) (See Challenge 3.2.a.):

  • Company policies, including any human rights policy and codes of conduct.
  • Community engagement strategy, including complaints and grievance procedures.
  • Information about subcontractors that may be engaged in the delivery of the requested service.
  • Extent of pre-employment screening for employees and management staff, including proof of qualifications, background and work experience.
  • A list of principal services provided for similar projects in the last three years, including references from clients.
  • Track record, including information on any human rights incidents or complaints relevant to the operating environment and/or tasks to be performed, and any remedial action taken.
  • Plan for service delivery which incorporates measures to effectively deal with security and human rights challenges.


Consider the set of criteria in Challenge 3.2.a. for the evaluation of proposals and ensure the community relations team participates in this process

  • Ensure that contractors’ financial proposals include a sufficient budget for community engagement, impact management, and other activities considered as part of the contractors’ responsibility. “This will help to ensure that contractors do not use poor social performance as a source of cost savings once tenders have been awarded.”[26]

Develop a binding contract with the contractor that includes clear clauses on (See Challenge 3.2.c.):

  • Respect for national laws, international humanitarian law and human rights law;
  • Company human rights standards and policies, including the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs);  
  • Performance requirements on stakeholder engagement;
  • Clarity on roles and responsibilities between the company and the contractor, including the contractors’ shared responsibility for dispute resolution with local communities when they have contributed to tensions.

As part of the contract negotiation, agree on “client-contractor ‘partnering principles’ to:

a) Provide clarity on the proponent’s social performance objectives;

b) Negotiate workable contractor incentive schemes for social performance; and

c) Identify engineering design opportunities that integrate the project proponent’s own programmes on community investment and local business development with the contractor’s management of construction and procurement.”[27]

Develop a coherent stakeholder engagement strategy that considers the role of contractors (See Challenge 4.1.b.)

  • Speak with one voice to the local communities, ensuring consistency in messages.
  • Agree on a procedure for managing community grievances that avoids confusion between the role of the project proponent and the main contractors.[28] Where appropriate, integrate the contractor’s grievance mechanism into existing mechanisms. However, there may be instances in which the contractor should have its own functioning grievance mechanism, especially when it is the only face on site. (See Challenge 4.1.e)
  • “Inform local communities about the details of contracts with local contractors”, explaining their roles and responsibilities, and how to report on related grievances. (GIR: 102)

Offer support to the contractor to enhance their capacity to deliver services in compliance with company standards

  • Train the contractor so that they have the adequate knowledge and skills to operate with effective security and community engagement practices.
  • Share best practices and guidelines as well as information identified in risk and impact assessments.

Monitor contractors’ implementation of social commitments in accordance with the contract

  • Designate a company representative who is responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance by the contractor with agreed requirements.
  • Hold regular meetings with the contractor to discuss community relations and consider inviting community representatives to participate in these meetings.
  • Agree on systematic and regular reporting requirements.

If the contractor fails to comply with clauses in the contract, consider the following options (IGTs: 57): 

  • Negotiate a timeline for compliance.
  • Withhold payments as established in the contract until the issue is satisfactorily addressed.
  • Condition ongoing relationship on performance and provide further, detailed guidance and training, together with regular performance review.
  • Terminate the relationship with the contractor.