Consider Social Sustainability in Your Project Risk Management

Sustainability of an organization increasingly is dependent on managing social risks – that is in managing the organization’s relationship with its immediate and extended community.  Some factors to consider include attitude toward existing companies, employee relations, potential financial impact to the larger community, and possible supporting infrastructure required.  It is important to recognize the external social factors at play – and to recognize what your organization, with limited control over these factors, can do to manage the risks that these factors pose.

This is the third part of a series of four articles on sustainability.  This third part, “Consider Social Sustainability in Your Project Risk Management”, looks at various external social considerations that may pose risk to the project and organization, and how those social risks can be managed.  Part 1, “Support Operational Sustainability in Your Project Risk Management”, encourages PMs to look at the operational impacts and potential risks of a project on an organization.   Part 2, “Ensure Financial Sustainability As Part of Your Project Risk Management”, identifies financial viability and performance as an essential precursor to any other type of sustainability for the project or organization.   Part 4, “Include Environmental Sustainability in Your Project Risk Management”, looks at the risks inherent in a number of environmental areas and how awareness is the first step to achieving environmental sustainability.

Social sustainability is a variable over which you have limited control.  It has the potential to deeply support or completely break a project. The best you can do is to have good outreach to the community, maintain good relations, and manage touch points that may be most sensitive.  

The following are some key touchpoints where it is most important to think about social sustainability:

  • Attitude toward existing companies – It’s good to monitor the attitude within the community to not only your company but also other companies.  It is a good barometer relating to trends and to identify if there is a brewing problem. It will affect the level of risk you should consider against any given project of the sustainability of current operations.
  • Employee relations – This is a common issue that companies have to consider in the various communities where they do business.  Different localities will have different concerns and approaches as to unions, education, skill base, and size of work force.
  • Potential financial impact to the larger community – Communities are always interested in businesses that will have a positive financial impact on the community, and most do.  They will be concerned with hiring of people within the community, whether the business will be using the services of other local businesses, and what the business might contribute to the tax base.
  • Supporting infrastructure required – Businesses also require certain infrastructure in a location for ‘social sustainability’.  These could include proximity to airport, train, and bus facilities; availability of power; taxes; water transportation; and universities.  Businesses also want to be in a locale that their employees will enjoy living and that will be affordable.

Whether your company is already in a location or considering going there, social sustainability is a key consideration.

What are the some key social sustainability touch points for your organization in the greater community?

This Post is Part of the Series: Sustainability

This series of four articles teaches how project risks can affect operational sustainability in a business.

Support Operational Sustainability in Your Project Risk Management

Ensure Financial Sustainability As Part of Your Project Risk Management

Consider Social Sustainability in Your Project Risk Management

Include Environmental Sustainability in Your Project Risk Management