Appendix 3: Grievance management mechanisms

In recent years, grievance management has become an important part of monitoring and evaluation.

Kemp & Bond (2009) drew on mining industry experience of conflict in operational settings to identify what works. With some additional elements, what works are:

  • an organisational culture that supports a focus on community perspectives
  • a dedicated pipeline for complaints and grievances
  • an effective procedure to record, track and close out resolved grievances
  • a grievance mechanism established as part of broad-based engagement that aims to establish trusting relationships
  • a grievance mechanism that allows and encourages grievances to be lodged in local languages or dialects
  • collaborating with local people and others about how best to handle grievances before they escalate
  • taking a principled approach, including, as a minimum, transparency, accessibility, timeliness, fairness and a simple and reliable recourse mechanism
  • considering issues in context, not in isolation
  • understanding the problem, not just solving it
  • building the social competencies of community relations practitioners and senior leaders
  • having a community relations function with structural power and formally recognised authority
  • ensuring that community relations personnel handling grievances are from the local community.

What does not work:

  • failing to plan for conflict on the assumption that it can be avoided, or that it can be handled ‘on the fly’
  • giving communities no way to lodge issues, so that they must resort to destructive behaviour to get a response from the company
  • relying on negotiation and position bargaining, rather than also including dialogue to build mutual understanding
  • ignoring or refusing to engage ‘least trusted’ groups
  • having a disconnected and isolated community relations function
  • lacking documented grievance procedures and grievance record keeping
  • refusing to accept legacy issues as part of the company’s management responsibilities
  • doing little analysis and due diligence
  • speaking words without doing actions
  • introducing third parties who impose processes ill-suited to the local context
  • following corporate procedures without modifying them to suit local cultures and conditions.

Additional guidance on grievance mechanisms and the role of non-judicial grievance mechanisms in contemporary business practice is in ICMM (2009) and IFC (2009).

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