Relationships with Indigenous Peoples must be more than good public relations.
Senior operation management staff should:
- Understand the rights, interests and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples
- Explain the importance of good engagement with Indigenous Peoples to all staff
- Be able to commit and lead a team to respect, understand and work with indigenous communities
Ensure your team is experienced and qualified
Companies must appoint staff that are qualified and experienced in engaging with indigenous communities and understand the breadth of challenges this can entail. Ensure your staff have the following qualities, or are provided with appropriate training:
- An awareness and understanding of how to interact with Indigenous Peoples
- Experience or familiarisation with the context in which they will be working
- Skills to support the employment of Indigenous Peoples, business development support and community development
Employ indigenous advisors
Hiring members from the indigenous community can play a vital role in facilitating engagement and acting as a liaison point with local Indigenous People.
- Before employing local people in advisory roles, first establish a relationship with the community.
- Help a community hiring committee choose suitable staff
- Try to find and employ already adequately skilled people from the indigenous community
- If this is not possible, identifying and training people for advisory roles should be a priority
- It may be necessary to employ external services eg a civil society group, until local people are ready for a community relations role
- Companies should provide mentoring and supportive supervision of indigenous advisors
- Companies should be fully transparent about the adviser’s role, and avoid placing them in a situation which could compromise their allegiance to their community
Be aware of gender sensitivity during engagement, particularly in traditional communities where men may be more comfortable engaging with a male company representative, and women with female representatives.
- Recognise gender imbalances that may exist within the community
- Ensure excluded groups’ (eg women) voices are heard in the decision making processes
- Find culturally acceptable ways to meaningfully involve excluded gender groups