A Social Licence to Operate, or SLO, can be defined as:
... an intangible, dynamic construct that broadly refers to the ongoing acceptance of an entity (individual, project, organization and/or industry) by its stakeholders, as evidenced by the entity’s ability to engage with its stakeholders and respond to the ever-changing demands on, and expectations of, the entity...
(Hurst et al. 2020)
In practice SLO might look like a mining project that has ongoing acceptance from stakeholders such as local residents, landowners, and businesses because it has engaged with them to understand their expectations in relation to the project and the company, and then changed some of the ways they operate to meet these stakeholder expectations.
This process can result in stakeholders who are happy with the way the project and the company are being operated, and are therefore willing to let the project continue to operate in close proximity to them.
Hurst, B., Johnston, K.A., & Lane, A. (2020). Engaging for a social licence to operate (SLO). Public Relations Review, 46(4), 101931.
Image by Amelia Hine