Sustainable Ethics in the Context of Local Community Development
Team Members: Debbie Asirvatham, Cecile Dupin de Saint Cyr, Tiffany Uman
At times, the pursuit of servant leadership may sacrifice profitability, but
corporations today are encouraged to achieve a triple bottom-line that encompasses
environmental and social responsibilities in addition to economic considerations. Rio
Tinto Alcan (RTA), a global leader in the mining industry, demonstrates their
commitment to servant leadership by recognizing their obligation to give back to the
local communities in which they operate. In particular, they devote significant resources
towards the development of the community in Ghana, though those mining operations
have been incurring successive losses. While sincere, the sustainability of such actions is
questionable given the lack of tracking and evaluation measures. Without ensuring
sustainability, RTA limits their servant leadership potential and the extent to which
mutual benefits could be extracted for all stakeholders.
Recommendation Overview
We have determined three boundaries for ensuring sustainability. Firstly, local
community development must be related to RTA’s business. Secondly, all programs
must be accompanied by clear objectives and evaluation measures to assure financial
feasibility. Thirdly, RTA must optimize value by outlining the roles and goals of all
stakeholders involved, while minimizing dependency. Considering local community
priorities and the shift in RTA’s strategic framework (to one that is now focused on being
a co-facilitator, co-initiator and supporter of sustainability), our proposed model
encompasses benefits of Support, Health, Infrastructure, Financing and Training
S.H.I.F.T. is comprised of three main components. Firstly, the construction of a
community centre would provide a resource for multi-purpose activities. Secondly,
educational programs entailing a maternity specialization ward, an alliance with the
Ghana Health and Education Institute, and employee-specific programs would improve
skills and empowerment. Finally, offering micro-credit would stimulate entrepreneurship
and help lift the local economy out of the poverty cycle.
When measured against the outlined boundaries, the S.H.I.F.T. program proves to
be sustainable and, thus, serves as a vehicle for effective servant leadership providing
transformation and growth, service and empowerment, as well as collaboration and
community building.
Transformation and Growth
The implementation of S.H.I.F.T. ultimately represents a change in the corporate
mindset of RTA and in the development process in Ghana. RTA’s revised outlook
encourages the achievement of a triple bottom-line and multi-stakeholder cooperation,
thus, preparing the company to take a proactive approach to local community
development. Our recommended initiatives will allow the community to lift themselves
out of the poverty cycle by creating greater learning, training the workforce and
stimulating the economy. S.H.I.F.T is based on the needs of the community, enabling all
parties to move from a relationship that is currently characterized by overdependence to
one that encourages interdependence and is in fact sustainable.
S.H.I.F.T. further facilitates growth as it can also be extracted to all of RTA’s
worldwide operations, assuring that service continues to drive their actions.
Service and Empowerment
RTA’s commitment to service emphasizes the need for sustainable ethics such
that contributions to the local Ghanaian community could continue on a long-term basis.
Given their leadership position in Ghana and the mining industry as a whole, RTA
recognizes the magnitude of what they have to offer despite the successive losses earned
at the mine site. However, the goal of RTA’s service is to enable the community to
sustain itself in the future.
Our recommendation aims to minimize dependence among stakeholders in order
to ensure the longevity of programs. First and foremost, the construction of a community
centre is an integral part of S.H.I.F.T. as it will enable an environment that is conducive
to the development of well-being. Additionally, the educational programs that will be
held at this facility (i.e. HIV/Aids awareness, improvement of vocational skills, maternal
care, and literacy) will empower local residents to expand their knowledge of factors that
directly affect their lives. Furthermore, the micro-credit financing program is aimed at
encouraging entrepreneurship and empowering those who want to achieve greatness, but
lack the means to do so.
Collaboration and Community
The shift in RTA’s strategic framework highlights the need for collaboration
when operating globally. RTA has already established a tri-partite agreement with the
District Assembly and an NGO in Ghana, but does not have a facility that is conducive to
conduct meetings. Therefore, the construction of the community centre will facilitate
these meetings, encourage increased frequency and improve communication and
collaboration. The tri-partite agreement seeks to achieve the Millennium Development
Goals set out by the United Nations, indicating their commitment towards the betterment
of the local community. Finally, the community centre will promote the coming-together
of local residents, creating a trusting environment and a sense of community.
RTA will form an alliance with the Ghana Health and Education Institute (GHEI)
to execute the educational programs to be held at the community centre. GHEI is already
committed to initiatives such as HIV/Aids awareness, improving vocational training, and
improving literacy but can benefit from increased financing and enhanced quality of
programs. Of course, the successful execution of such programs hinges on an open and
well-established relationship between RTA and GHEI.
HIV/Aids and maternal care are two predominant concerns in Ghana. Our
educational programs empower individuals to take initiative for their health and stimulate
general awareness for the consequences of not doing so, thus, promoting the value of life.
With regards to the micro-credit financing program, RTA will form an alliance
with SG-SSB, a well-established bank in Ghana. Essentially, the bank would provide the
facility and expertise, while RTA would provide the financial resources. Thus, creating
strong relations between both parties is critical to the achievement of desired results.
Moreover, in order to receive a micro-credit loan, groups of five will be required to
submit a loan request, thus, strengthening commitment and community building.
The goal of the employee-specific programs is to promote affiliation with RTA by
involving employees in decision-making, implementing recognition programs, offering
certifications for those with specialized skills, and establishing a sense of continual
achievement. Thus, these programs would contribute greatly to enhanced commitment to
RTA, while also promoting team building within the work environment.
As a leader, RTA is in a position to leverage its power towards the betterment of
the local communities in which it operates. As a servant, RTA has the responsibility to
nurture, guide and promote the process of local community development with respect to
all stakeholders. By ensuring sustainability, RTA will assure its ability to act as an
effective servant leader, both now and in the future.