Edna Rodríguez
CSO and Partner
View from the Top

Promoting Social Investment Through Numbers and Standardized Methodologies

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 16:31

Q: What added value can ISI offer the mining industry in Mexico?
A: Our company differentiates itself by having a background in engineering and not only in social matters. This allows us to talk the same language as CEOs and Directors General and to turn plans into a series of concrete actions while simultaneously understanding the needs of the social sector. ISI can provide the best techniques in project management, which is a crucial element in CSR as many social aspects are much easier in theory than in practice.
Our experience in engineering also makes us accountable for our promises as we can lay out our ideas with a fixed budget, benchmarks and goals, in the same way our clients lay out their production outline for the year. Our methodological framework is well-accepted by business leaders as we include tangible metrics that enable them to follow and understand what we are doing. If we did not do this, companies would not understand why we want to execute campaigns such as educational or sustainability programs.
Q: How can mining operators develop a more holistic approach to social and environmental risk mitigation?
A: Companies need to make sure that they have a clearly defined plan of action for social and environmental risk mitigation to avoid undesired surprises. Sometimes operators leave it to their public relations team to talk to communities without truly understanding their needs. Many mine managers also tend to overlook the importance of the relationship between the surrounding communities and the project when CSR should be an integrated part of the work culture to ensure responsible actions. The most important step is identifying all the ways a project will impact the environment and the people who are close to the mine, which implies everything from noise pollution to the use of scarce resources such as water. This step also needs to consider the entire supply chain that revolves around the mine, from contractors to transportation services. There is no magic solution and all companies need to invest time in this step.
Q: What strategies does your company use to prove the ROI on risk mitigation in CSR?
A: Measuring the cost of conflict is complicated, especially within projects that have not clearly identified their social and environmental risks. We show companies that prioritization of social issues within their project management is the best way to maintain the reputation of a brand and avoid closures or blockades. Our company also prioritizes the idea of shared value wherein companies can increase competitiveness by solving societal issues. The trick is to identify areas of opportunity to achieve this across the entire supply chain. It is not only social issues. More and more people are becoming aware of the environment and the dangers of climate change. This is pushing companies to invest in sustainability to avoid putting their brand at risk.
Q: What are the biggest challenges mining companies face when it comes to balancing productivity and CSR?
A: Many companies are under pressure to move projects from development to production in a short timeframe while maintaining low costs and high quality. In an ideal world, they would take the time to connect with local suppliers that offer more cost-effective services than multinational companies and also regional expertise while providing an economic boost for the surrounding communities. But companies often choose international suppliers they are familiar with to save time. Contractors have the best potential for facilitating this process by connecting projects with companies that can meet their needs from those specialized in transportation to materials.
The industry is also faced with the conundrum of having to take care of the environment while at the same time extracting resources. People need to realize that mining is a necessity for the world economy and that technological advances are being fed by a supply of minerals. The solution is to find a balance between the environment, operations and demand for these resources.