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Social license on projects

A shared vision: commitments and guiding principles
Imagine a future where social license on public and private projects enables sustainable industries, drives economic growth and fosters social inclusion.

This is a living document indicating desired commitments on mental health and well-being by all parties to projects, and outlining guiding principles.

Senior project leaders participating in the Executive Leadership in Major Projects (ELMP) program have develop a number of shared visions for projects facilitated by Professor Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld (Brandeis University) and updated by successive ELMP cohorts. These include shared visions for employment relationsdiversity and inclusionsocial licenseinnovation, and mental health and wellbeing on projects

Our commitments

  • As project leaders, we will actively foster a culture where mental health and well-being are appreciated and openly addressed in inclusive and constructive ways – as important as workplace safety.

This is a living document indicating desired commitments on social license by all parties to projects, and outlining guiding principles.

Senior project leaders participating in the Executive Leadership in Major Projects (ELMP) program have develop a number of shared visions for projects facilitated by Professor Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld (Brandeis University) and updated by successive ELMP cohorts. These include shared visions for employment relationsdiversity and inclusionsocial licenseinnovation, and mental health and wellbeing on projects

Our commitments

  • The impact of projects reaches beyond the focus of the work and the people directly employed on the project. There is also a public trust – a social license – that is also associated with a project.
  • All parties in projects will actively honor the public trust in order to best create value and mitigate harm on projects in the public and private sectors.

Potential guiding principles

  • Demonstrate respect: Even though there are diverse stakeholders associated with projects, it is important to demonstrate respect – even when addressing complex and contentious issues.
  • Articulate the greater good: All projects contribute to the greater good in society and these current and future contributions need to be clearly articulated – to serve as a touchstone during the life of the project.
  • Forthrightly address risks and negative impacts: Anticipated and unanticipated negative impacts of projects should be recognized and addressed in a forthright and constructive manner.
  • Build trust – Trust must be built on a continuing basis with projects – saying what you will do; doing what you say; demonstrating expertise.
  • Model appropriate leadership: Leaders should build consideration of social license in their dealings, modelling desired behaviours and utilising teachable moments.
  • Foster reciprocity: A social license involves reciprocal responsibility and accountability across many stakeholders, foster reciprocity based on underlying interests.
  • Employ metrics: Track progress on the social license associated with projects and ensure internal alignment relative to the metrics, with appropriate rewards and recognition.
  • Ensure needed transparency: The social license requires sufficient transparency to support public accountability, while also honoring project information that is required to be confidential.
  • Span the value stream: Attend to the social license in all phases of a project (design, build, supplier, sustainment).
  • Anticipate changing expectations over time: The social license is a living set of shared understandings that will evolve as stakeholders and interest change.

Overarching project objectives

  • Creating value: Honoring the broader social license on projects creates value for diverse stakeholders now and builds capability for the future.
  • Mitigating risk: Stakeholders should share responsibility for mitigating the risks associated with social license on projects.

Shared visions represent what can be called “true north” or aspirational goals, though they are intended to be feasible, rather than just wish lists. Shared visions are living documents, enabling alignment and evolving as the points of alignment themselves evolve. Read more.