Developing the research methodology
Alcoa of Australia first commissioned the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility in October 2007 to investigate the expectations and perceptions of key local stakeholders across its operations. The purpose was to provide evidence-based identification of opportunities and risks in the development and refinement of Alcoa’s community relations strategies. A key deliverable was the development of key performance indicators and a survey tool that Alcoa could use to track the effectiveness of the company’s community relations strategies. We designed a two-part research process that enabled us to engage all Alcoa’s 1,500 plus stakeholders in a cost-effective manner. In Stage 1 we used the internationally-validated Stakeholder 360® tool to provide empirical evidence of stakeholder perceptions and expectations, and to identify socio-political opportunities and risks relevant to Alcoa. We completed in-depth interviews with stakeholders at ten Alcoa sites in Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. Stage 2 comprised a self-complete survey delivered by either post or email to the other stakeholders. The results enabled us to pinpoint opportunities and risks at both corporate and site level. We were able to clearly identify and measure business outcomes such as perceptions of social, environmental and economic performance, and reputation. We also quantified the extent to which high quality stakeholder relationships contribute to these outcomes, developed key performance indicators and provided tactical advice on community engagement and communications for each site.
Tracking community perceptions
Alcoa has commissioned ACCSR every two years since the original project to track changes in the key performance indicators, understand changes in awareness and effectiveness of community relations programs and identify which community programs have been successful, and which may no longer be as well targeted. It helps Alcoa understand which stakeholder groups are satisfied with their relationship with the company, and where relationships are improving. We also measure changes in perceptions of social, environmental and financial performance, as well as views about strategic issues.
Putting research into action
Insights from the 2012 project were not only used to develop community relations plans, they were used as a community engagement tool, helping to improve relations further between Alcoa and its stakeholders.
Corporate Affairs Manager, Western Australian Operations,
Alcoa of Australia
Stakeholder research, mapping stakeholder networks, measuring Social Licence to Operate
Xstrata Coal in Queensland, part of the global Xstrata mining group, wanted to build their social licence to operate – the level of acceptance or approval granted to their operations or projects by the local community and other stakeholders. They approached ACCSR to develop a project that would explore the issues of most importance to stakeholders and provide workable recommendations that would increase social capital (trust, shared goals and motivation to collaborate) with stakeholders.
How do you identify the most important issues to your stakeholders, and also understand how stakeholders are connected to each other, in order to address and understand emerging issues?
Xstrata Coal Queensland needed to understand the level of social licence granted to it by stakeholders, as well as their perceptions of its environmental, social and economic performance. The miner also wanted to understand how stakeholder organisations were related to each other, to highlight opportunities for collaborating with those organisations.
Our bespoke Stakeholder 360® methodology was used to explore not only the issues of importance to stakeholders, but also the quality of relations between Xstrata Coal and its stakeholders.
We interviewed nearly 800 stakeholders over a three-month period, representing organisations from a variety of sectors, including government, business, education and the environment. We also spoke to landholders and members of the community around the mines to understand their perspectives.
The resulting report gave Xstrata Coal Queensland insights into how stakeholders perceived their organisation which they might not otherwise have been able to discover. For the first time the organisation could see a map of the issues of importance to stakeholders and how those issues were linked together; the report also included network mapping of stakeholder organisations, enabling Xstrata coal management to easily see areas where collaboration would be possible.
We worked with both central and community relations staff to transfer knowledge, and ensure that insights were practical. Xstrata Coal employees were then empowered to build on our findings and develop strategies to address issues identified by the project.
We generated actionable recommendations and developed metrics which can track the effectiveness of strategies that are implemented.
Xstrata Coal is in the process of implementing internal processes and developing policies to capitalise on the opportunities presented by our research. The value of the research to Xstrata Coal is also that the sites were able to tailor and customise plans according to their specific findings. The research is now been used to develop and improve social capital with key environmental, community and government stakeholders.
Sara Parrott, Manager, Community Relations
Developing tools and benchmarks to deliver a Carbon Reduction Strategy
The impending introduction of a carbon price in Australia prompted ME Bank in 2011 to launch a strategy for reducing emissions and reaching carbon neutrality. In order to do so, the bank first needed to understand its current carbon footprint and the key determinants of that footprint.
ME Bank engaged ACCSR in 2012 to conduct research on its carbon emissions to:
- Identify ME Bank’s current Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and potential exposure to the carbon price;
- Compare its performance with similar organisations; and
- Forecast future scenarios for the company’s emissions depending on different actions for reducing and avoiding, switching sources, and offsetting residual emissions.
To achieve this, ACCSR undertook a three-part project. First, we assessed ME Bank’s current carbon inventory and the expected impact of the carbon price on the company thanks to a tailored accounting tool, which we developed consistent with national standards, and which is auditable and scalable to the company’s future needs. Second, we performed in-depth benchmark research of the company’s carbon emissions against a pool of peer companies to contextualise its performance and identify best practice. And then, building on the previous stages, we worked together with ME Bank to create a customised calculator for setting targets, action plans and forecasting emission scenarios. This tool also provides estimations of the possible costs of each decision.
Finally we provided a report including the results of this research and suggesting next steps to enable the company to move towards carbon neutrality. ME Bank is now ready to develop its Carbon Reduction Strategy as a result of the analysis and measurements provided by ACCSR.
Kathleen Walker – Manager Corporate Responsibility
BHP Billiton Community Investment Governance
BHP Billiton has a long-term commitment to invest one per cent of its pre-tax profits in community investment programs as part of its broader approach to sustainable development.
To assist in meeting its community investment target, the company established an independent charitable company in FY2009 – BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities (BSC) – to manage the disbursement of funds to community projects globally.
BHP Billiton contracted ACCSR in 2011 to conduct a benchmark analysis to understand the governance structures and practices of corporate foundations and charitable entities established by other leading global companies, and to provide an evidence-base to inform decisions relating to BSC’s governance framework.
In-depth analysis was performed on 13 leading corporate foundations and trusts, including the Shell Foundation, Alcoa Group Foundation, Nike Foundation and Vodafone Group Foundation. The final report included recommendations and options relating to potential BSC focus areas, operating models and governance.
Ian Wood, Vice President Community Relations and Sustainability
NSW Minerals Council Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue
Coal mining began in the Upper Hunter Valley in NSW in the 1850s. The region has grown to be an important centre of Australia’s wealth, and is home to many industries including mining, wine-making, tourism, agriculture, horse-breeding and power generation. The NSW minerals industry recognises the concern in the community about the cumulative impacts of mining in the Upper Hunter.
The Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue (UHMD), through the NSW Minerals Council, brings together all of the region’s coal producers – Anglo American, Ashton Resources, BHP Billiton Mt Arthur Coal, Bloomfield Collieries, Coal & Allied, Muswellbrook Coal, Peabody Energy Australia, Vale Australia - Integra Coal Operations and Xstrata Coal – to listen and better understand concerns as an industry and to establish a dialogue with the community about the role of mining, minimising the collective impact of mining in the Upper Hunter and the region’s future.
ACCSR was engaged by the NSW Minerals Council in 2010 to conduct a survey of groups affected by coal mining in the Upper Hunter Valley so that the nature and depth of concerns could be better understood. The survey was conducted between October and November 2010.
The survey utilised the Stakeholder360® methodology to underpin the analysis. A total of 93 organisations and individuals participated, including representatives from the mining industry, local council, state and federal government, local business, industry associations, media, education institutions, indigenous organisations, CCCs, environment groups, community groups, residents groups and individual opinion leaders.
- Community recognition of cumulative impacts
- Perceptions of the mining industry, using measures including social license to operate, reputation, relationship quality and social capital (comprising trust and shared goals)
- Issues and interests that matter most to the community
- Relationships among stakeholder groups to better understand which groups may be able to cooperate in the future in developing solutions to cumulative impacts
- Preferred communication channels.
This study was the first stage of the dialogue project and the next step is a community outreach program to further explore the issues and to begin to develop solutions to the problems.
Hydro Tasmania 2009: A New Way to Work with Stakeholders
Hydro Tasmania generates 70% of Tasmania’s electricity and is Australia’s largest renewable energy business and water manager. It has a strong reputation for sustainability. However, in a small island state, stakeholder issues have a particular intensity that often results in issues moving into the public arena and the media faster than they might otherwise.
Stakeholders driving the issues environment are often communities of interest relating to assets such as power stations, lakes and dams.
Issues the company deals with include water usage and pricing, downstream environmental flows, heritage issues, multiple use of natural resources, and development of new business lines such as wind farms. To manage these issues better, Hydro Tasmania wished to build higher levels of trust with communities and improve its understanding of material issues from a stakeholder perspective. It also wanted to change the way people across the business think about their broader accountabilities and build business awareness of the benefits and the impact of effective stakeholder engagement.
ACCSR used the Stakeholder 360® approach to underpin this assignment. We interviewed 46 stakeholders, used network analysis methods to develop a register of key stakeholder concerns and issues and show how stakeholders relate to one-another on the issues, and we measured relationship quality on attributes such as social capital, trust and goal alignment. This information was shared with external and internal stakeholders through structured dialogue and workshops. Our report provided recommendations for both strategy and tactics.
Michael Bidwell, Land Management Officer
In April 2009, the Federal and State Government’s agreed that the Victorian Government’s sustainable development authority, VicUrban, would develop the former 128-hectare Department of Defence site in Maribyrnong, following site remediation by the Commonwealth. The site, rich in history and opportunities to create an exemplar of sustainable development in Melbourne’s inner west, brought together diverse sectors and stakeholders. Stakeholder consultation was identified as a critical success factor to inform project planning and assist in building an agreed community vision for the future of this major urban regeneration project.
VicUrban commissioned the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR) to conduct research with the Project’s grass-roots stakeholders.
The aims of the project were to:
- demonstrate that VicUrban is committed to engage with, listen, and respond to stakeholders and;
- provide insights that so as to increase the likelihood of achieving strong engagement with relevant stakeholders.
- understand and measure relationships between stakeholders;
- identify and measure relationships between issues that have material implications for development of the Project’s vision and strategy;
To achieve this, ACCSR undertook in-depth interviews with key stakeholders nominated by VicUrban. We worked with VicUrban to apply the internationally validated Stakeholder 360® research and engagement framework. Including both quantitative and qualitative measurement and management processes, Stakeholder 360® provides detailed insight into an organisation’s socio-political risk, uncovers the drivers of an organisation’s social performance and reputation and provides a roadmap to build high quality stakeholder relationships.
This project resulted in some key outcomes for VicUrban. They were able to identify new and emerging stakeholders and strengthen existing relationships to inform the building of a shared vision for the site’s redevelopment.
General Manager Urban Revitalisation,
A company’s ability to reduce its environmental impacts and deliver strong social outcomes while driving business improvement depends on the quality of its relationships with a broad range of stakeholders. In 2006, Transurban engaged the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR) to conduct stakeholder research with the company’s Australian stakeholders.
The aims of the research were to help Transurban better understand the issues that matter to stakeholders and to inform and support the development of Transurban’s community engagement framework. To achieve these goals, ACCSR implemented the Stakeholder 360®. ACCSR conducted 79 in-depth stakeholder interviews and two external stakeholder meetings.
The results were used to build Transurban’s community engagement strategy and develop its first sustainability report, while the process helped strengthen relationships and shared understanding between Transurban and its stakeholders.
In Transurban’s 2007 sustainability report, the company described how it uses the Stakeholder 360® as its “main tool for formally engaging with its stakeholders.” In 2007 ACCSR conducted a Stakeholder 360® for Transurban to uncover key emerging issues and track changes to the company’s stakeholder relationships and reputation from 2006. ACCSR conducted 53 interviews with people from 38 stakeholder organisations.
The 2007 research showed that stakeholders are becoming increasingly concerned about sustainability issues. Transurban’s 2007 sustainability report said: “As well as extracting key stakeholder issues, the research provides valuable data on ‘social capital’ — the quality of our relationships with stakeholders.”
Corporate Relations & Strategic Marketing