Operational level grievance mechanisms (OGMs) are non-state, non-judicial mechanisms that companies create or participate in to handle complaints from employees, workers in their supply chains, community members impacted by their activities, and other stakeholders, such as civil society organizations. They are located within a broader remedy “landscape” that encompasses both judicial and non-judicial, and state and non-state-based avenues for seeking remedy.
COMMUNITY-DRIVEN OGMS: A BETTER APPROACH
Even well-intentioned engagement can reinforce power dynamics and fail to recognize rights holders’ agency and to treat them with dignity. Meaningful rights holder involvement and leadership are needed to help ensure a true rights-based approach.
Rights holders – those who will use the OGM – are best placed to identify what the OGM they will use should look like and are entitled to have that input taken seriously.
EarthRights and Just Ground seek to address the co-option of “community-focused” activities by business entities. Businesses often pay lip service to participatory principles on paper or cherry-pick which parts of existing guidance to follow or ignore.
A rights holder-centered approach is critical for confronting the shortcomings of top-down OGMs and preventing them from becoming accepted as “good practice.” OGMs will always be limited in terms of what they can provide, but a community-driven approach holds potential for improvements.