Corporations admit that they need a system to ensure that their practices meet human rights and environmental standards. But too often, companies try to create and monitor these systems themselves.
Corporations set up Operational Grievance Mechanisms (OGMs) to handle complaints of abuse or wrongdoing from workers, community members, and other stakeholders affected by a project. However, these OGMs often work in a way that reflects the significant power imbalance between corporations and communities, and they do little to counteract this inequality. OGMs frequently fail to prevent human rights abuses or to provide adequate remedies. They don’t put power back into the hands of the communities who are impacted by corporations’ misconduct.
One solution is the new model of the Community-Driven Operational Grievance Mechanism (CD-OGM). ERI is partnering with a number of populations affected by development projects to create their own, new channels of communication, specific to their contexts and needs. The goal is for communities to establish their own mechanisms to make their voices heard. If the land and resources belong to a people, it’s up to those people to define their terms of engagement with a company that wants to do business in their area. It’s up to the community, not the corporation, to decide what accountability, prior consultation and just compensation look like. ERI conducts workshops to build this new strategy for corporate accountability. These CD-OGM workshops focus on three main areas: technical design, education and outreach, and advocacy strategies.
Technical CD-OGM design
These workshops focus on the individual technical steps in an OGM. The villagers decide how they want to file complaints, what they want the investigation process to be, what the appeals process should be, as well as who they want to perform each role.
Education and outreach
These workshops help to develop an outreach plan to ensure that the design reflects the voices of the broader community. It provides guidance on how to reach stakeholders, how to communicate concerns, and how to ensure that the CD-OGM is inclusive and accessible to everyone, especially marginalized groups.
These workshops look at different aspects of developing an advocacy plan, from deciding on the type and extent of stakeholder engagement to identifying relevant stakeholders, assessing leverage points and using negotiating skills.
Within each of these, ERI presents examples, pros and cons and case studies. Workshops raise a number of discussion questions for the villagers to think through so that they can determine which options will help them in their particular situation and develop the tools to put them in place. At the villagers’ request, ERI also assists with other advocacy efforts, attending meetings with project stakeholders and providing support for their advocacy plans.