Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a complex concept that embodies numerous notions, which can be hard to explain using only a few words. Boréalis personnel must often talk about CSR to various audiences which prompted us to find an easy way to explain. Among other things, they wanted to be able to explain what makes extractive companies account for the social, environmental and economic impacts of their activities and report their sustainability efforts. This led to the creation of a small group that came up with the idea of an educational interactive game. The application is downloadable for free and uses the tagline of Boréalis’ human resources department: What footprint will you leave on our world? Johanne Ceelen, Human Resources Director, shares with us why Boréalis decided to embark on this adventure.
Sarah Busque: Why use a game to explain CSR?
Johanne Ceelen: At the very beginning, we felt the need to have a learning tool that would help us in recruiting personnel. Being an Information Technology (IT) company, most candidates we reach out to know very little, or next to nothing about CSR. We wanted to remedy this situation and find the simplest, most enjoyable way to explain this concept while clearly describing what Boréalis does. IT being at the heart of the company, innovation is one of our core values; creating an interactive game became the best possible answer. To do so, an internal multidisciplinary team was mandated to conceive the game’s rules and content, based on realistic considerations. Once the script was ready, a local marketing and communications agency, Lubie, helped us materialize the game. The final result well exceeds our primary expectations and helped us notice the educational and explanatory potential of this game.
SB: Who is the game meant for?
JC: It is a tool that allows us to explain Boréalis and CSR not only to job seekers, but also to potential clients, to those who reside in the communities affected by extractive projects, to government officials, or any other neophyte interested in knowing more about our company or about CSR.
SB: How was the game received so far?
JC: The response was excellent! We took advantage of the Canada Games being in Sherbrooke this summer to reach out to people and let them play the game for free. Because of our involvement in the Games as ‘’Diamond Friend,’’ we had a stand directly on the site where competitions took place, which made it easy for us to meet up with spectators. The reaction was unanimous: everybody loved it! Better yet, this sampling of people demonstrated that the game allows us to reach our objectives of simplifying CSR. It helps people understand CSR issues and challenges as well as how, what we do at Boréalis fits in this context. All this, while having fun!
SB: How does it work?
JC: The concept behind the game is simple: the player finds himself in the shoes of a manager at Waisao, a company responsible for the construction of a railroad that will link a processing plant to a deep water port. In this role, the player must take decisions regarding the construction of the railway. These decisions will have social, environmental and economic impacts. In order to succeed, the player must link the plant and the port while being careful to maintain a proper balance between these three factors. Depending on the player’s choices and the number of turns taken to reach the finish line, the score will vary and the player will be given one of the following profiles: the Green Giant, People’s Hero, the Banker or the Tightrope Walker. However, if one of the three factors is neglected or if he takes too many turns before reaching the port, it’s Game Over. The player has access to the Boréalis toolkit which includes the same modules our clients have, such as: Stakeholder Engagement, Land Management, Social Baseline, Biodiversity and Compensation/Resettlement. This allows the player to better predict the impacts of each decision. Playing the Boréalis game fosters better understanding of the challenges that extractive companies face when it comes to CSR and the type of decisions implied. Most interesting, is that the game also helps players understand that all projects, whether they have a narrow or broad scope, from the extractive industries or not, have an impact on communities, the environment and the economy of a region.
The Boréalis Game can be downloaded for free via the Apple App Store for iPad.