For us, meaningful community engagement is a continuous process of contacting, dialoguing and systematically interacting with local stakeholders. This is how we make sure they have the information and opportunities to participate in decisions that affect their future, and we mitigate social risk and optimize opportunities.
Social acceptance — the willingness of stakeholders to accept our business activities — is never guaranteed and evolves over time. It is also an essential component of sustainable development. We are committed to sharing the value created by Great Panther’s activities so that it contributes to the social and economic growth of our host communities.
"While our community engagement approach stayed the same in 2020, we increased the emphasis on supporting public health and safety, in response to the global pandemic."
We invest in developing and supporting our communities, so they can be the best places to live and work. This benefits our people, their families and friends, our suppliers and local citizens. As outlined in our Social Investment Policy, we prioritize projects that help improve quality of life. We determine these initiatives through active and frequent two-way stakeholder engagement to identify local priorities, including meetings with community members, community assemblies and surveys.
Informed by community input, our investments generally focus on three main areas:
- Socio-economic development
- Natural and cultural heritage
- Local Infrastructure
Collaboration and consultation
We work closely with our host communities to plan our activities, reach land-use agreements, resolve any concerns and, ultimately, create shared value. Various levels of government, civil society and local businesses participate. There are no indigenous communities in the immediate area of influence of Great Panther’s sites (self-determined and/or as identified by national groups or international legislation and standards).
Our business depends upon predictable access to land and natural resources. In many situations we do not own the land, so positive negotiations with the landowners are critical. We reach agreements through negotiation processes, which can range from a few days to more than a year, where both parties can express their interests and find common ground. Our aim is to compensate landowners fairly for the use of their lands and ensure we use them in ways that respect their cultural and spiritual traditions.
Great Panther is committed to maintaining or incorporating grievance mechanisms at our mine sites to formally and transparently address community concerns. This lets us address concerns related to our operations, construction or materials transport. These matters range from labour issues to water, land use and environmental concerns, as well as noise or dust impacts.
Our proactive, collaborative approach across our operations in Brazil, Mexico and Peru helps us become a respected and welcome member of each community. It means we can earn and maintain our social acceptance (also known as social license to operate) and deliver on the objective of making a lasting, positive impact.
Local Hiring and Procurement
We believe in hiring and procuring goods and services from local communities. It’s not just good for our business but also has a ripple effect among our host communities, and that’s good for everyone.
Creating good jobs and supporting local businesses is critical to our commitment to the regions where we operate. We strive to provide fair compensation, professional growth and working conditions that retain and motivate people from the communities and regions in which we operate. By sourcing workers from within our host communities, we can maximize the benefits that flow into, and stay within, those communities. Building relationships with local suppliers is a strategic business tool that not only mitigates risks to our operations but provides benefits to the local community and contributes to sustainable community development.
Employing local people drives cost efficiencies and helps in the ongoing process of gaining and maintaining social acceptance. We prioritize local hiring in our mining operations, and we aim to create secure and safe roles. Local workers have full-time, permanent employee positions and contract roles in key management, professional or technical roles. They generally work in the technical areas of mining, exploration, equipment maintenance, laboratory and analysis, private security and haulage.
We recruit employees or contractors from outside the community or state where our operations are located when it is not possible to find necessary qualifications or skills within the local workforce.
Doing business locally is fundamental to our success. Great Panther purchases, stores and delivers more than $160 million annually in supplies, equipment and services to our mines and offices. Our procurement teams source products ranging from diesel fuel and chemical reagents to IT equipment and contract service providers from more than 1,200 vendors.
Through our local procurement process, we give preference to local suppliers, who we define as suppliers of goods or services in our host communities or at the state and national level. By “buying local,” we continue developing the relationship between Great Panther and local businesses while reducing our shipping costs and operating expenses and strengthening our business continuity. Most importantly, it fosters an entrepreneurial spirit in our host communities, which has a strong multiplier effect on local employment and business.
Training and Development
Developing skills and knowledge creates opportunities for everybody. Our employees and contractors enhance their abilities, while Great Panther becomes a stronger company.
Our employees and contractors consider this topic one of the most material. Through effective training and development, they gain new abilities and can advance in their jobs. The United Nations recognizes the importance of training and development as part of their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They call for a focus on providing people with the skills and assets to take full advantage of any new employment potential.1 This impacts immediate livelihood but also long-term prospects for their communities.
Investing in our people
Great Panther delivers online and in-person training and development customized to the individual’s role. Our training programs include management and leadership training, in-class safety and equipment activities, and on-the-job, technical skills-building. While we adjust training to suit individuals and priorities, year after year, our training is heavily focused on safety skills, to ensure a safe workplace and personal development, to help employees and contractors build potential for themselves and their communities. We also deliver environmental, rescue brigade and technical training. Each mining site has an annual training plan to set out priorities, goals and budgets for the year.
An increasing number of employees at our mine sites receive an annual performance review. It is based on their performance and tied to their department and Company objectives. As part of our short-term incentive plan for most employees, the performance review measures personal objectives, teamwork, self-initiative, skills development, work quality and communication effectiveness. Contractors are evaluated for their ability to carry out their work effectively and safely rather than on individual performance reviews.
The freedoms to associate and bargain collectively are fundamental rights and we are committed to upholding our employees’ and contractors’ rights to decide whether to unionize. Currently, 100% of our employees in Brazil are unionized, representing 56% of all Great Panther employees. Great Panther’s goal is to work collaboratively with our unions. This cooperative approach broadens the health and safety of our people and supports our business and local communities. In 2020, we had no strikes or lockouts at any of our sites.
Diversity And Equal Opportunity
By taking actions to welcome, include and support a diverse workforce, we will possess the perspectives, experiences and expertise to deliver the best results for our stakeholders.
While a team functions in close coordination, united around a common challenge, their success depends on the different traits that each individual contributes to the effort. To activate that mix of diverse skills, strengths and experience among our workforce, we must recruit, value and include team members of different gender, race, age, religion, ethnicity, disability, and other characteristics that enable them to bring new perspectives, knowledge and ideas to our work.
A Multi-faceted Effort
Great Panther believes in providing equal opportunities for all those who work at the Company, and we apply these workplace principles to instill a culture of fair, unbiased and equal treatment of all employees:
- We maintain and enforce company-wide Human Resources programs to encourage diversity in our hiring practices and ensure all employees and contractors have equal access to new opportunities.
- We are committed to achieving gender parity. We ensure that salary compensation is valued by position with no difference between genders. There may, however, be some differences between the salaries of men and women in the same roles due to seniority.
- We have mechanisms for employees and contractors to report discrimination or unequal treatment, and these reports can be made anonymously if the individual prefers.
To help attract and retain a qualified workforce made up of people with diverse experiences, backgrounds and perspectives, we must identify and address actual and perceived barriers and biases in our human resource processes. We also face the challenge of recruiting diverse employees when much of our workforce is drawn from local populations where there may be limited diversity among candidates. Regardless, we are committed to overcoming these obstacles wherever possible while monitoring our progress to create a more diverse and inclusive organization.
While we advocate for internal diversity and equal opportunity because it is smart business, we are also engaged in global, industry-wide campaigns to drive responsible mining, including the Sustainable Development Goals. Since racism and gender inequity persist in our society, equality is considered one of the most material topics by our employees and local communities. And, Great Panther wants to be part of the solution.