A new research project exploring the ways in which gender influences corporate community engagement in resource sectors (or resource-extraction projects) has been launched by Clare Bebbington (Audire Consultants) and Emma Wilson (ECW Energy). The new initiative is inspired by the female community liaison officers with whom they have worked and follows the successful conclusion of their pioneering two-year study of community-facing teams in the oil and gas industry.
One-third of CLOs are women. This new project will study the experience and impact of these female CLOs, and how this compares with their male colleagues. The research aims to:
Explore the extent to which gender diversity influences the resilience and flexibility of community-facing teams, and their ability to deal with multiple local challenges.
Consider the ways in which female members of community-facing teams engage with community leaders, community members and in particular with vulnerable and marginalised groups.
Identify the specific needs of female members of local communities and how these are addressed by male, female and mixed community-facing teams.
Explore the specific challenges female CLOs face, and the particular strengths, networks and life-skills they bring to the role.
Look at the responses of communities to female CLOs, and test ways in which this may differ from responses to their male counterparts.
Clare and Emma’s previous research led to the development of a toolkit for companies building resilient community liaison teams, which was launched by IPIECA in 2018. The intention is that the new study will have similar practical outcomes.
The research will include scoping interviews with thematic experts, structured interviews with team leaders, functional managers and most importantly with female community liaison officers working in different social, economic and political environments worldwide. It will be supplemented by an online survey and will if possible bring groups of female liaison officers together to discuss issues in plenary sessions and to learn from each other’s experience. It will focus on the oil and gas industry but will extend to other industrial sectors including hydro-power, mining and other major infrastructure projects.
Bebbington, C., Wilson, E., Smith, L. and Van Alstine, J. (2017) Community liaison officers:
exploring the frontline of corporate practice in the oil and gas sector. London: Audire and ECW