News Consultants

News

Zaheera Soomar provides a comprehensive article that explores how the principles of Shūrā (consultation) in Islam may provide a solution to the impact of automated processes in mining on economic participation and equitable community participation.

Mining is a human activity that has negatively disturbed the environment and is linked to significant social impacts, inequalities (Carvalho, 2017), economic power and greed (Zorrilla, 2009). The key question that has been posed for decades is “how can the various stakeholders use their diverse interests and needs to generate mutual benefits for all, while respecting the environment and striving for sustainability” (Milano, 2018). More recently, the emphasis has shifted from mutual benefit to one of equity instead. Best practice has shown that good engagement and participation, across all stakeholders, builds trust, leads to resolution on disputes, strengthens the local economy and generates sustainable practices (Milano, 2018).

With the mining and energy industry moving to more automated processes, not only will communities be negatively impacted by economic participation, but equitable community participation will drop even further as societal license from local communities will become harder to obtain (Carvalho, 2017). In this article, we look at the principles of Shūrā (consultation) in Islam and see what lessons we can draw to strengthen the principles of community participation in the consultation process to ensure communities are fairly and equally represented, now and in the future.

While the concept of Al- Shūrā will be discussed in this paper, in relation to the natural resource sector, they can be applied to many areas requiring consultation such as in the position of ruler or judge, political, civil, military spheres of administration (Al-Raysuni 2013) and technology, which has been attracting increasing attention to their products, use of social media and the harm caused in society.

Key points include:

  • Working with indigenous communities

  • Shūrā – the Quranic Principle of Consultation

  • Equal decision making through popular consent and collective deliberation

 

Read the full article, How Shūrā aids community participation: The case of mining of natural resources, on ResearchGate.net.

 

Zaheera Soomar shares a post that explores the problem of prospective employees following an organizations’ assessment of their ‘cultural fit’. 

I came across a few LinkedIn posts about candidate experiences and organizations requests in recruitment. I read through the comments to see how others felt and it didn’t leave me feeling comfortable.

I tried to reflect and dig deep about why I’m feeling uncomfortable. I reflected on my past experiences in both joining organizations but also in hiring individuals to join. I reflected on a fairly recent experience with an organization that I joined and then decided to move on from because of culture fit.

This is where I got to with my reflections:

When organizations hire, majority of organizations assess for culture fit. This has become increasingly important over the years where it’s not just about the skills set but about alignment with values, culture and principles.

But… it’s a two way alignment. Candidates should equally assess the fit from their end and be courageous enough to do it.  At the end of the day… accountability should work both ways right? I think many individuals do – but not as we should. I reflected back on the experience I mentioned above and remembered having doubts/questions in my mind about culture fit. I didn’t do enough when signing up… even though I attempted to do more once in. But it wasn’t enough. It didn’t make a difference.

 

Key points include:

  • Proceeding with authenticity
  • Assessing your requirements
  • Assessing company culture

 

Read the full article, Don’t let the organization be the only decision maker at the table, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Zaheera Soomar shares a comprehensive and well-researched paper that highlights a framework organisations with remote and virtual teams can use as a guideline to build and maintain trust.

Trust is an important concept in assessing and measuring business behaviour from an organisational performance and culture lens, and has become a source of competitive advantage for organisations especially within the knowledge economy. Studies show that organizations with a high level of trust have increased employee morale, more productive workers, and lower staff turnover. Most organisations factor and measure trust as part of keeping a pulse on their organisational culture and design their initiatives around building and maintaining trust. While it is not impossible to build trust virtually, it certainly is harder and requires a different set of considerations. There has been a big shift by organizations catering for more remote and flexible work conditions over the past decade with the “virtual team” becoming the norm. The recent impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have forced most, if not all, organizations to move in that direction faster than planned. With this movement to more remote working conditions, that are likely to have longer-term impacts, companies will be faced with challenges that virtual teams typically face in establishing and maintaining trust.

 

Three key areas covered are:

1) Foundational

2) Organisational

3) Individual

 

Read the full paper, A framework for building and maintain trust in remote and virtual teams, on F1000Research.com

 

 

 

Zaheera Soomar shares an article that uses the game of monopoly to illustrate how the effects of inequality endure and impact the players. 

I attended a racial equity workshop this weekend and this example was shared with me.. which I thought was hugely powerful! I have always spoken out about race, gender, discrimination and fairness but its always been deeply personal and subjective – how can it not! I am a Muslim woman of colour, born in South Africa (a country built on apartheid and still suffering the consequences of racism), with strong traditional Indian heritage and culture, wears a hijab because of my religion and has very strong principles and values that guide my decisions. Its always subjective. And because of that – it can come across very strongly. I have been trying to find different ways to talk about this without making it personal. This example gave me just that – and I wanted to share it!

A simple game of monopoly….

A US professor teaching racial justice talks to her class about white privilege, power, affirmative action and how it’s being implemented to correct racism in this world, and specifically in the US.

 

Points in this article include:

  • Impact of the game
  • Reflections of the students
  • Recommendations from the students

Read the full article, When the rules are fair, but the game isn’t…., on LinkedIn.

 

 

Zaheera Soomar presents an article based on the results of a recent conference on corporate responsibility for health and safety in mining. 

I recently presented at the DRC Mining Week Digital Event on a new “modus operandi” for health and safety in mining. There was some good dialogue and I have had multiple follow ups and conversations since on an organization’s responsibility. Thought it would be good to share some views on this.

In the past few weeks alone there have been various health and safety incidents in the news. Despite the extractives and industrials industries existing for centuries, with focus on health and safety and a host of advanced H&S measures in place, people are still getting injured and dying. Covid-19 has certainly added its own sets of challenges to the mix, with mining companies having to make decisions on keeping mines open, having minimal operational presence and ensuring the safety of those that continue to work. One of the main implications that faced the mining companies was health and safety in general of their employees and host communities, and whether it’s a factor of their mining operations or not – but more importantly – what their duty is at this time. Despite what we all might hope for – this is not a one off: there will no doubt be other phenomena and risks as the global operating environment becomes more volatile with increased risks relating to climate change, pandemics etc. As a result, mining and other companies are re evaluating their role around health and safety, not just from an employer perspective, but from a human rights and ethical perspective!

 

Included in this article:

  • Responsibility to employees
  • Responsibility to stakeholders
  • Responsibility to community

 

Read the full article, Rethinking health and safety in Mining – what is an organization’s responsibility?, on LinkedIn.

 

During times of crises leaders must make the tough decisions, but choosing the right way to go is not always clear cut. Zaheera Soomar identifies three practical approaches to serve as guidelines for ethical decision-making.

During a recent conversation with a senior executive, she expressed a sentiment that many of us share: “When the pandemic has passed, I want to be able to say that, at the hardest of times, I did my best to do the right thing”. During this pandemic, leaders are expected to make difficult decisions with far-reaching consequences.

Ethical decision-making becomes even more important in times of crisis.

Leaders are constantly faced with ethical decisions, with all of the challenges associated with meeting the expectations of various stakeholders – investors, employees, customers, partners, regulators, local communities, and society at large. These decisions are rarely simple, bringing together financial considerations with deep-rooted beliefs about the right thing to do: Costco’s raising of its minimum wage, Woolworths’ decision to get out of liquor and gambling and Salesforce’s decision to bar certain firearms companies from using its services all represent tough decisions informed by ethics and values. Leaders must make decisions with limited knowledge, predicting their impact, and have confidence and trust that the compromises and trade-offs are the right ones.

 

Included in this article:

  • Align your decisions with your purpose
  • Follow agreed and actionable principles
  • Prioritise and plan your decisions and actions

 

Read the full article, Making Good Decisions in times of Crisis, on the Principia website. 

 

 

Sarah Ralston Miller and Zaheera Soomar co-authored this article on how to support and strengthen company culture during the current crisis. 

Through the Covid-19 pandemic, our world of work has changed almost overnight. In the past few weeks, we’ve spoken with senior leaders at organizations with whom we have been working to strengthen their ethical culture. These leaders understand that their culture is an essential resource to navigate through the current crisis, and are finding new ways to cultivate ethical culture under these radically-changed circumstances. Drawing on our conversations with leaders across business and civil society, here are a few reflections on ways to guide your own culture during this period.

Be deliberate about your remote-based culture. It is important that we understand how the shift to remote work environments impacts our organizational culture, no matter how temporary we hope it will be. Being intentional about what we put in place can enable benefits and mitigate risks. Transitioning to remote work without building a corresponding culture creates multiple risks, including loss of employee engagement and inclusion, impact to productivity, lack of connectedness between individual and overall organization goals, increased fragmentation and risks of misconduct related to changing accountabilities.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • Remote-based culture
  • Communication
  • Scenario-planning
  • Agility and adaptability

 

Read the full article, Cultivating Culture in a Crisis, on the Principia website.