What is it that we can do to earn and improve our Social Licence? So many people in the primary sector have asked me this lately and this was precisely what I was wanting to be able to give them from my Kellogg research. The answer, while no one quick fix, isn’t big either. It’s lots of little things. They require bravery, honesty, and accountability, but it’s not going to cost you the world, just time. A resource that I know is probably just as precious, if not more, to farmers than money. So here is what my key recommendations are. 1. Be accountable Our actions affect people - the communities and societies we live in. When we do wrong by them, we need to front up, not whitewash but address their concerns rather than the shareholders. 2. Understand who your stakeholders are If you don’t know who you’re affecting, you don’t know who could potentially derail your business. It’s in your best interest to get to know those that might take exception to how you operate.
3. Engage from the ground up Anything worth doing (long-lasting) starts at the roots. Campaigns run from head office struggle to last beyond its instigator, so empower stakeholders/communities and industry to affect their own change if you want it to be enduring and solve the right issues. By doing this, you’ll also avoid public pressure on the government to regulate if those directly affected are able to influence the outcomes.
4. Be transparent Set strategies to address stakeholder concerns and to realign with each other's values. Integrate the strategy to the roots of your business and report on it warts and all. With transparency comes credibility and trust - the foundation of Social Licence.
5. Be brave Own your failures. It’s a far more effective way to rebuild trust and credibility to be transparent when you’ve got it wrong. No more pointing the finger in trying to make it fair – look after your own backyard first.