x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Index measures social effect of investment

The Life: Leanne Case of Coffey International talks about the index to measure the impact of social development projects of oil and gas companies in southern Iraq.

Leanne Case works for Coffey International. Antonie Robertson / The National
Leanne Case works for Coffey International. Antonie Robertson / The National

Leanne Case is a social performance practice leader at Coffey International, a Sydney-based consultancy which publishes an index measuring the effect of community development initiatives by international energy companies in southern Iraq. Here, Ms Case, who worked in Iraq for two years before moving to Dubai in 2012, reveals more about the study.


Coffey International has developed a Social Performance and Reputation Indicator in Iraq. How does the index work?

We launched the survey in 2012 and have done four quarterly surveys since March last year. Every three months we undertake household surveys for clients who subscribe to the service. We go from home to home asking questions. We also interview the local business community, such as the government and tribal leaders, to know how the local community is impacted by the presence of international companies. That information is collated for each client and analysed against a set of indicators, including the index, which is calculated over the baseline. Some of the clients are in the same areas, so information is shared. But for each client, we identify the relevant area and undertake surveys relevant to the contract area.


What do you ask the people in the communities?

We ask about the impact on the quality of life, the international companies' social investment projects, whether people are aware of them, how fitting these are to the needs of the community and how well the brand is known. The interviews with the business leaders look at how the local business community is impacted by the presence of international companies.


What did you find?

The results vary from client to client. Most communities are positive about the presence of international companies. The outside interaction with Iraq was limited up until quite recently, and so there is always a need for the involvement of the local community and staff in whatever we do.


How well are the companies measuring up?

It is a very challenging environment. And companies are achieving that in different ways by upskilling the local communities through English language, sewing and engineering classes, for instance.


Where else has the index been used?

It was developed for use in Afghanistan and has been used there. The method can be used in any post-conflict environment.


How do Arabian Gulf companies measure up in community development?

It is hard to differentiate based on corporate nationality. Many companies are based in Dubai but are multinationals.


How can companies make a positive impact on the communities where they operate?

The key is not to make assumptions, and do research on the community. Most companies do their investment but they have to make sure it is right for the community and the company. It also requires planning.