BHP Billiton’s James Ensor talks to Brunswick’s James Dray about how corporations are expanding impact by redesigning giving
Mining isn’t an industry commonly associated with corporate responsibility, let alone philanthropy. But in recent decades, amid a spate of high-profile and public challenges, miners have recognized that their relationships with host communities and local stakeholders are vital to their social license to operate.
Social engagement today is increasingly regarded as more than just a good idea – it’s now a requirement for survival. The most successful companies in the sector are aiming to improve systems for the long term, not merely to treat symptoms of societal ills as they arise with stand-alone programs.
Among these corporations is BHP Billiton. Founded in the 19th century and headquartered in Australia, BHP is the world’s largest natural resources company. It is also the creator of one
of the world’s largest corporate foundations: the US-based BHP Billiton Foundation.
As CEO and President of the Foundation, James Ensor plays an important role in shaping these efforts. An Australian who studied at Cambridge University, Ensor previously held the position of Program Director at Oxfam, a coalition of 18 NGOs working in 90 countries to end extreme poverty.
In addition to his work at the Foundation, Ensor serves an executive role at BHP Billiton itself, in charge of developing sustainability policies. The blended responsibilities are indicative of the integrated model BHP looks to employ toward its social engagement: improving the social performance of its local business while addressing critical global sustainable development challenges through the Foundation and acting as an advocate on key issues.
Ensor recently spoke to Brunswick’s James Dray about what he sees as a new trend emerging in corporate philanthropy.