De-Mystifying Site-Level Grievance Mechanisms: Key Factors that Contribute to Successful Design and Implementation


Dr Craig Ford, Mr Ben Chalmers

Over the past few years, considerable emphasis has been placed on the design and implementation of site-level grievance mechanisms (GMs), which are increasingly being seen as a vitally important community relations tool. A number of organizations have recently produced valuable and thoughtful guides to help businesses design and implement GMs. These tools identify the evolving best practice design elements and process steps to implement a site-level GM. Experience around the world with companies of all sizes demonstrates that organizations struggle to define what constitutes a grievance and to distinguish these from other community-related incidents and concerns. Existing guidance does not typically address, with any granularity, the real and often intractable organizational and on-the-ground design and implementation challenges that businesses face after making a decision to put site-level GMs in place. The Mining Association of Canada and the Office of the Canadian Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor identified a need to develop more practical and granular site-level GM guidance to encourage their adoption. This guide de-mystifies grievances and grievance management, and elaborates on the key elements that contribute to successful design and implementation of site-level GMs. A management systems approach is used to describe how grievances fit into the broad range of community concerns and incidents and identifies the three factors that escalate a community concern or incident to a formal grievance. In this way, companies can design a management system for community issues that goes well beyond grievances, helping build trust-based relationships between mining operations and local communities.