Social licence to operate 2017-12-04T18:37:08+00:00

Social licence to operate


In his overview presentation on social licence to operate at The Trialogue Business in Society Conference, Nedbank Executive Head of Public Affairs, Thabang Chiloane, shared the key message of the imperative for community engagement from Ernesto Sirolli’s Ted Talk, entitled Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!

As a young man, Sirolli worked for an Italian non-profit that ran projects in Africa. The organisation saw vast, fertile land along the banks of the Zambezi River and decided to teach the Zambians how to cultivate the land. They paid the community (who were reluctant to participate) to attend agricultural training. They grew hundreds of tomatoes and zucchinis which, when ripe, were eaten by the hippos from the river. When the non-profit workers asked the community why they didn’t warn them not to plant in that area, the community responded: “You never asked”. Read more from the plenary session. 

Breakout sessions

Managing and meeting community expectations

While the social licence to operate began as a concept in the mining industry, it is relevant for all businesses. The social licence is a perception of legitimacy – does the company go about its business in a proper way? Whereas reputation refers to the overall favourability of the image of a company. A panel discussion at Trialogue’s 2017 Business in Society Conference explored the crucial need for companies to effectively and continuously engage communities, and the impact that this has on a business’s social licence to operate, as well as on its reputation.  Read more…

Funding social justice

Social justice work advocates for public and private accountability, equal access to Constitutional rights, improved service delivery and the strengthening of democracy. During the anti-apartheid movement, social justice was robust, calling for the abolition of racial discrimination and the promotion of the rights of women, workers and other vulnerable people. “Today, social justice projects in South Africa concern themselves with economic justice, public participation and socio-economic rights, accountability and improved access to services in a range of sectors.” This, according to the Social Justice Initiative (SJI) – a South African NPO that partners with philanthropists and civil society organisations to raise funds for social justice and advocacy initiatives. Read more…

Can CSI communication have broader social benefit?

The effective communication of corporate social investment (CSI) is crucial for strengthening relationships between companies and their stakeholders. However, there is a general perception that CSI communication often lacks authenticity and fails to facilitate meaningful reflection or education on developmental issues.

A panel discussion held at Trialogue’s 2017 Business in Society Conference, facilitated by Shani Kay of Regency Foundation Networx, explored whether communicating CSI could go beyond enhancing a company’s reputation, towards achieving broader social impact. Read more…


These sessions were presented in partnership with