Community engagement at Stambolijski and Swiecie mills
We use the SEAT process, open and transparent sessions of dialogue with our stakeholders facilitated by an independent third party, to engage with our communities. Dialogue with our stakeholders helps us to address the impacts of our operation on the surrounding communities and stakeholders.
Our social investment programmes are aligned with the business objectives while addressing the needs of the communities in which we operate. “SEAT is a unique platform for our stakeholders to voice their concerns, views and expectations,” says Alexander Krickler, managing director of Mondi Stambolijski where a SEAT process was completed during the year.
The SEAT process also allows us to update our understanding of the socioeconomic context of the locations where we operate, enhance our channels of communication with all our stakeholders, and increase awareness of our mill in the community. This better equips us to mitigate existing and future risks and identify opportunities to add value to our business.
“Initiatives like SEAT can help us to better understand how stakeholders perceive our operation and its positive and negative impacts on the surrounding communities and stakeholders. It supports us in streamlining our risk-management system and developing community engagement plans (CEPs),” explains Alexander. Stambolijski’s CEPs are based on the findings and trends identified during the SEAT process, ensuring that the priorities of the surrounding communities are addressed.
Mondi Stambolijski is one of the largest companies in the region, the biggest wood consumer in Bulgaria and an important local employer, currently employing 320 people. Consequently, our impact on the region is significant – including positive contribution to the economic development of Bulgaria. Our regional footprint also means high stakeholder expectations are placed on the organisation, largely relating to:
- environmental performance;
- communication with all relevant stakeholders;
- increasing European Union requirements; and
- future investments, which could increase operational capacity and ensure the sustainable economic growth of the region.
The findings of the SEAT process confirmed the trust, close ties and openness existing between the mill and all its stakeholders. “We have strengthened our ties with all our key stakeholders as we believe that only transparent and honest communication can help us develop effective and long-term socioeconomic development plans for the business and the community,” concluded Alexander.
Community engagement plans in Swiecie: best practice
Mondi Ṥwiecie is another example of how the SEAT process helps shape our CEPs. Mondi’s Human Resources Development Manager at Ṥwiecie, Joanna Bednarska, explains, “The SEAT process gave us perspective. We identified and addressed key social and economic impacts and focused our engagement programmes on the priorities of the community. It provided the opportunity to assess the effectiveness of existing initiatives and identify where improvements might be made.”
While the process was initiated some years ago, Mondi Ṥwiecie continues to be actively involved with its stakeholders, including the 1,092 employees, most of who are from Ṥwiecie and surrounding communities. The CEPs are based on thorough analysis of the feedback received from stakeholders. “Mondi Ṥwiecie’s CEPs are clear, flexible and designed for the long term,” says Joanna. What really sets Świecie’s CEPs apart is the adoption of a Let’s decide together programme, whereby all employees are given the opportunity to participate in community investments. Every employee is able to submit proposals for providing support for a specific project. The main issues of local concern relate to unemployment, poverty, quality of education, crime and the quality of the local medical facilities. As long as the proposed project addresses one of these needs, Mondi considers providing financial support. “For us, the increasing number of employees participating in this process is the best indicator of success,” says Joanna.