Socionaut: your ally to obtain the Social License to Operate in Mexico

The concept of the Social License to Operate emerged in the late 1990s, primarily associated with the Mining Sector. It pertains to the valid consent granted by the communities in which large-scale projects are undertaken.

In Mexico, companies undertaking projects with substantial socio-environmental consequences encounter the formidable task of acquiring and preserving the Social License to Operate (SLO) while ensuring their sustainability. This license is not a tangible permit but an intangible validation bestowed upon the company by the community in which it operates. It hinges on the community’s acceptance of the company’s endeavors and initiatives and plays a pivotal role in its enduring prosperity.

Acquiring this license is neither a simple nor a one-time process. It is a continuous endeavor that requires project proponents to actively engage with various stakeholders to achieve a higher level of empowerment and participation beyond traditional project management. Once obtained, it becomes crucial to consistently uphold the license throughout the project’s lifespan, demanding proactive management.

Understanding the Importance of the Social License to Operate (SLO)

The Social License to Operate is fundamental for several reasons. First, it allows companies to operate with greater security and stability of operations, reducing the risks and costs involved in social conflicts associated with mismanagement in this area. A community that actively participates in the benefits that projects can bring, joins the company’s efforts to make them prosper, and is less likely to generate conflicts or blockades.

Another important factor of having a healthy SLO is the significant improvement of an organization’s reputation. Good management demonstrates that the company is responsible and committed to sustainable development, appealing even to responsible consumers who demand that companies properly manage the environment and the communities in which they are located.

The SLO opens up new business opportunities. Companies with this license can access new markets and customers who value sustainability and social responsibility. In turn, it contributes to the sustainable development of communities. Companies that obtain the SLO usually invest in social and environmental projects that benefit the communities in which they operate.

Brief description of the step-by-step to obtain the Social License to Operate

Conduct a context analysis:

  • Understand the social, economic, political and environmental environment in which the company operates.
  • Identify the key stakeholders with whom you need to interact to obtain the SLO, such as the community, local authorities, non-governmental organizations and other interest groups.
  • Assess the expectations and concerns of these key stakeholders.
  1. Establish an SLO policy:
  • Define the company’s commitment to social responsibility and sustainable development.
  • Establish clear principles for SLO management.
  • Assign responsibilities within the company for the implementation of the SLO policy.
  1. Build relationships with the community:
  • Establish effective communication channels with the community, such as public meetings, newsletters and social networks.
  • Promote dialogue and community participation in decision-making.
  • Demonstrate transparency and accountability in all activities.
  1. Implement social responsibility programs:
  • Develop and implement programs that benefit the community, such as educational, health, employment, and economic development projects.
  • Involve the community in the definition and execution of these programs.
  • Monitor and evaluate the impact of these programs in the community.

Possible problems to be observed

Lack of understanding within the community regarding a company’s operations has the potential to breed mistrust, especially when there is awareness of negative incidents. Additionally, the failure to cultivate dialogue with the community can spark future conflicts.

From a business standpoint, it is crucial to consider the ability to implement social responsibility initiatives that aim to mitigate adverse effects. Moreover, closely monitoring any changes in legislation or regulations that impact or contribute to the management of the Social License to Operate is of utmost importance.

What can Socionaut do to help companies in Mexico acquire the Social License to Operate?

Socionaut is a company that specializes in managing SLO for projects in intricate contexts. Its consultants have extensive experience in diverse sectors such as mining, oil, infrastructure, and energy megaprojects, providing valuable contributions throughout various project stages. Their team of experts is capable of assisting you with:

  • Conduct a context analysis
  • Establish an SLO policy
  • Build sustainable community relationships
  • Implement social responsibility programs

In addition to:

  • Identify key stakeholders with whom you need to interact to obtain the SLO.
  • Develop effective communication plans to inform the community about your activities
  • Implementing social responsibility programs that benefit the community
  • Monitor and evaluate the impact of your activities on the community.

Socionaut brings forth its expertise and knowledge to support you in creating and executing projects with social responsibility. These projects are aligned with the goal of achieving Sustainable Livelihood Outcomes (SLO) and nurturing enduring relationships with stakeholders, particularly the communities within your sphere of influence. Visit their website to explore further details on how they can assist you in attaining your business objectives sustainably.