We seek to contribute to the social and economic progress of the local communities where we operate. We believe that maintaining a fundamental respect for human rights, responsibly managing our impacts on communities and making valued social investments are integral to the success and sustainability of our business.
The socioeconomic aspects of our business fall into seven broad categories, as depicted below: human rights; community relations; indigenous peoples; cultural heritage and diversity; and land use and resettlement. For information on transparency and anti-corruption, see the corporate governance section, and for economic development, see the local development and supply chain management section.
ExxonMobil works in communities all over the world, each with their own unique cultures, needs and sensitivities. We strive to have a positive impact on the individual communities in which we live and operate. We believe proactively managing potential issues, while also enhancing community benefits, is integral to developing long-term, positive relationships.
ExxonMobil believes a consistent approach helps our employees, contractors and partners effectively manage socioeconomic issues. We use our Upstream Socioeconomic Management Standard to identify potential socioeconomic impacts and their associated risks early in the Upstream asset life cycle, and then develop and implement appropriate avoidance, reduction, remedy and monitoring measures.
In 2010, ExxonMobil established a socioeconomic management center of expertise (COE) to ensure a systematic approach to a dynamic and evolving arena. The COE utilizes a functional advisory team with various representatives from relevant company business lines, such as procurement, treasurers, land, security, medical and occupational health, and public and government affairs. The advisory team meets semiannually to review and discuss strategy, alignment and direction regarding socioeconomic considerations. The COE also meets with our External Citizenship Advisory Panel annually to review initiatives and gain insights and direction for future efforts.
Further, a socioeconomic management course regarding implementation of the Upstream Socioeconomic Management Standard and its elements is held twice a year. This course has provided a forum for more than 100 ExxonMobil employees from 18 countries to collaborate as well as exchange ideas and lessons learned.
We have found that in order to optimize opportunities for creating and enhancing positive socioeconomic effects and to successfully implement appropriate risk management measures, identifying actual and potential impacts early is essential. By outlining different expectations based on the identification of relevant socioeconomic aspects, the Standard ensures that our Upstream activities proactively identify socioeconomic risks and implement timely well-balanced solutions.
Working collaboratively and transparently with local communities is essential to promoting positive long-term relationships and fostering ongoing support for our activities. We make every effort to consult with community stakeholders on a regular basis for the purpose of exchanging information and proactively identifying issues or concerns. By integrating the results of these discussions into our decision-making processes, we can help avoid or reduce our impacts on communities, enhance benefits, avert delays, reduce costs and prevent the escalation of issues.
ExxonMobil defines our location-specific community awareness programs and government relations protocols using our Best Practices in External Affairs (BPEA) coupled with ESHIAs and/or Environmental, Social and Health Management Plans (ESHMPs). Our BPEA process is designed to help identify the specific needs, expectations and interests of host communities and aligns those needs with our community investment programs. We utilize ESHIAs to identify the actual and potential impacts of a specific project and ways to avoid, reduce or remedy those impacts. Together, BPEA and ESHIAs help build and maintain a positive and transparent relationship in the communities in which we operate.
We seek to ensure interested stakeholders are fairly represented as community issues are discussed and decisions are made. Once a project starts, we provide local groups and individuals with communication channels to voice concerns. Our Upstream Socioeconomic Management Standard includes provisions for establishing a systematic and transparent grievance management process to address individual and community concerns about a project. When appropriate, dedicated personnel are responsible for developing and managing a process to map, track, analyze and respond to community grievances.
Our operations sometimes take place in areas inhabited or historically used by indigenous peoples. In locations such as this, we work with indigenous communities to respectfully protect their cultures and customs. Our approach to interacting with indigenous peoples around the world is consistent with the following four guidelines:
- ILO Convention 169 Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability
- World Bank Operational Policy and Bank Procedure on Indigenous Peoples
When working with indigenous peoples, one of our key objectives is to determine how they prefer to engage. For example, communities can decide if they want us to meet with elected leaders, community elders or other representatives, and if those engagements are conducted in a public forum, either formal or informal. We empower the communities to establish their preference for how often and how long their members meet with ExxonMobil representatives, and who will provide their viewpoints or represent their wishes.
In addition, we seek to provide mutually beneficial training, employment and business opportunities to indigenous peoples through local content programs and strategic community investments.
Cultural heritage and diversity
We are sensitive to concerns around balancing cultural heritage with the desire for economic development. Our respect for the cultural heritage and customs of local communities carries into our everyday business practices. For our Upstream projects, we incorporate into our project planning, design and execution considerations such as cultural, spiritual or sacred heritage sites and areas, biodiversity conservation, traditional knowledge and sustainable resource management.
Prior to starting work in an area, we identify potential sites of cultural significance using a cultural heritage identification process. Additionally, we leverage relevant studies to deepen the knowledge among our workforce and provide training to our construction and field contractor personnel on managing cultural heritage challenges. Our objective is to preserve cultural sites and artifacts appropriately.
Land use and resettlement
ExxonMobil employs practices and policies to respect property rights in the locations where we operate, and we pay particular attention to those areas populated by indigenous peoples. Whenever land is necessary for projects, we adhere to applicable host-country regulatory requirements that govern land acquisition. If projects are externally financed, we also comply with land use, access and resettlement requirements stipulated by the lender(s). Additionally, consistent with the 2012 IFC Performance Standards, when working on traditional lands, we endeavor to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples before initiating significant development activities.
We understand that community members often have concerns about how our activities may affect their land and way of life. When managing land-use-related impacts, we aim to minimize involuntary resettlement through a disciplined multi-dimensional site selection process. Several potential locations are typically assessed based on technical criteria such as availability, accessibility, safety, security and constructability, as well as environmental and social considerations. All of these factors are then evaluated and locations are ranked to determine the lowest-risk options. There are several cases where we have rerouted infrastructure or chosen an alternative site for a facility to address resettlement-related concerns.
When physical or economic displacement is unavoidable, we seek to ensure the restoration of the livelihoods of displaced persons by developing and implementing location-specific resettlement action plans that are informed by consultations with landowners as well as surveying and mapping of housing structures, gardens, wildlife, natural products, harvesting areas and other assets. Assessment teams also identify resettled individuals or groups who may be more affected by the displacement than others. When appropriate, we closely monitor these individuals or groups and assign them to priority resettlement assistance programs.