ENODO Global has created an operating platform for companies to design and implement effective social responsibility programs that achieve direct corporate and community benefits: Social Alignment. The technology was designed to help companies understand and address the complex social challenges—identity conflicts—they encounter across their operations and enhance Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and shared value initiatives. It differs dramatically from CSR and shared value initiatives because Social Alignment focuses on the people where companies operate—not annual reports or philanthropic aspirations. ENODO’s Social Alignment platform incorporates analysis on the perception of businesses and organizations with a society. It is not enough for a business to understand a culture on a societal level. It is just as important to understand how a society views the business. By taking a multi-disciplinary approach, ENODO can advise companies on security, risk, and identify potential opportunities. But most importantly, it delivers a significant return on investment by reducing the occurrence of work stoppages due to protests, strikes, litigation and violence, while safeguarding against reputational risk.

Social AlignmentCSR and shared value programs are designed to sign a social contract between companies and communities, creating a license to operate. Unfortunately, they often fail to deliver a significant return on their investment and, in some cases, poorly designed CSR programs increase existing social tensions and ignite dormant tension, escalating social unrest and causing violence. The causes for CSR’s failure are numerous and well documented, but the main reasons can be attributed to a lack of local knowledge, inability to see the world through the eyes of the populations, and the application of  Western development practices into their design and implementation. Additionally, programs designed around a company’s philanthropic efforts often fail to understand the basic needs of a community and their world views, which ultimately leads to programs that do not deliver enduring value to the community and prevents companies from realizing the potential second order effects and indirect consequences.  No matter how noble and authentic the company’s social responsibility endeavor—provide solar power energy or increase crop production—it will not achieve its objective unless it is designed around the community’s basic needs and world views.

The risks to companies from social unrest have increased significantly over the past decade, but have largely gone unnoticed because companies tend to focus on traditional geopolitical, economic, technical, and regulatory risk analysis. The increase of social unrest incidents has been facilitated by unprecedented access to communications technology, growing demands for equitable wealth distribution, and increased competition for natural resources. These phenomena unite individuals, groups and organizations into dynamic social movements that mobilize around specific narratives.  They use tools and methods such as litigation, protests, strikes and violence to achieve their objective, which often times negatively impact companies.

Activists and their networks exert influence and pressure on corporations through direct or indirect means, which can have local, regional and national implications. These include, but are not limited to, changes to regulations, environmental rules, and social reinvestment. For example, local activist protests in Cajamarca, Peru escalated into violence causing the national government to intervene, a stop to a $4 billion mine project, and the Minister of Mines to be replaced. Worker protests in Zambia led to the death of a mine manager and the nationalization of a Chinese mining company. In the most dramatic example, the president of Burkina Faso was forced to step down amid national protests over ineffective economic reforms. Events of this nature will continue to escalate in complexity and magnitude as population’s demands increase.  And a company’s reliance on governments alone to protect personnel and assets is a recipe for failure.

Companies can mitigate the risk of social unrest and its negative impacts by establishing enduring, mutually beneficial relationships with the communities where they operate. However, this requires in-depth understanding of the community’s basic needs, narratives, and world views. The Social Alignment platform is used to develop a comprehensive understanding of a local community’s needs, which helps create stakeholder relationships. One way to achieve the understanding is by applying ENODO Global’s process and population-centric methodology to a particular target group, area or interest to uncover the key identities, world views, narratives, and basic needs of individuals and groups that form communities. Communities are the foundation of modern societies and where the majority of today’s social unrest and security challenges originate. Combining the world views, narratives and basic needs with a deep understanding of a society’s culture, customs, and traditions, pinpoints the specific programs and initiatives that will deliver the greatest ‘immediate’ impact and create ‘enduring,’ sustainable projects. Interacting with non-state actors is just as vital as working with governments on both local and national levels when advising businesses. ENODO incorporates these various elements and insights into engagement strategies so companies can align their social responsibility objectives with those of the communities where they operate.