Because oil, gas, and mining operations can cause major changes—both positive and negative—to
affected communities (local communities directly affected by a project), both company and community are best served by a constructive working relationship. This social license to operate—“a
community’s perceptions of the acceptability of a company and its local operations”3 —is essential to smooth operations.4 In 2016, EY named social license to operate as the seventh biggest business risk in mining and metals industries.5 When a company fails to obtain a social license, community opposition can ensue. This could lead to protests and other interruptions, such as popular consultation processes, that may increase proj ect timelines and costs and affect company reputation and stock price. Conversely, the consultation and collaboration required to obtain and maintain social license can create opportunities for com panies and communities to work together, which can boost the potential for positive benefits for both companies and communities. Effective community engagement and development programs are key building blocks for developing this social license. Increasingly, companies are investing considerable resources in in-depth community assessments as well as in community development strategies and activities. Social license implies the acceptance of the community as a whole. However, men and women often have different experiences and perceptions with regard to oil, gas, and mining projects. Often, the benefits and risks from these projects are unequally distributed between men and women in affected communities. Women frequently suffer greater negative environmental, economic, and social impacts than men do, with reduced access to benefits, consultations, and compensation. Women play important roles in every community. Their buy-in and support is critical to sustained social license to operate. Working constructively with women throughout the community engage ment process is important to ensure that community benefits are equitably distributed. It also contributes to sustained social license to operate, helps catalyze broader community benefits, and
ultimately yields positive impacts on company bottom lines.