"We Need to Newmontize Folk"
A New Social Discipline at Corporate Headquarters
Chris Anderson's administrative assistant escorted me to the thirty-sixth floor of the Wells Fargo Center for my first appointment with Newmont's Social Responsibility group executive in June 2003. We emerged from the elevator into a festive scene. A set of paintings Newmont had commissioned from Warlpiri artists had just arrived from Australia, addressed to Anderson under his adopted Warlpiri name. Executives and consultants were trying them out in their offices and on hallway walls, and Anderson was explaining the importance of the flying ant motifs in the paintings, the cosmology of places they contained, and how one renowned artist could sing her paintings as women's stories and men's stories. Noting Newmont president Pierre Lassonde's zeal for the paintings, he joked, "We better get these out of the way before he sees them." Shocks of vibrant color against the subdued blues and grays of the office décor, the paintings seemed to represent a new, unexpected, and disruptive presence. Anderson was appointed to lead CSR at Newmont in 2002, as part of the corporate restructuring that followed Newmont's acquisition of the Australian company Normandy Mining and the Canadian Franco-Nevada Mining Corporation. Those takeovers left Newmont the world's largest gold producer, raising its profile for both investors and environmental activists.1 The paintings were material traces of Anderson's biography and the relationships he had cultivated with Australian Aboriginal communities and artists as a doctoral student in anthropology doing his fieldwork, as a curator and director at the South Australian Museum, and as executive general manager of Public Affairs for Normandy.
At that time I had only a vague sense of the shape my research at Newmont's corporate headquarters would take, since much would depend on the level of access granted me. I was disappointed to find that the corporate library and centralized archives I had hoped to explore did not exist, but my access to daily life at headquarters was better than I had expected. My initial plan was to interview executives and shadow Anderson and his close colleague Helen Macdonald, director of Community Relations and Social Development, in the occasional meeting. This took on the livelier complexion of fieldwork when Anderson and I sat down together and he said, "I don't want to tell you how to run your research, but, as a fellow anthropologist, I think it makes sense for you to get a cubicle so you can really be among the natives." My timing was fortunate. Both Anderson and Macdonald, who holds a doctoral degree in applied philosophy and had been Normandy's community relations advisor, were willing to let me observe their daily activities and follow them in meetings as long as other participants did not object to my presence (Newmont lawyers were the only ones to do so).
It was not a given that Anderson and Macdonald's academic training would encourage them to open their office doors to a graduate student they knew little about. Anderson had encountered academic anthropologists who shunned him for taking a job with a mining company and asked him how much he had been paid to "go over to the dark side." But being the subject of ethnographic scrutiny was not a novel experience for him: in his previous role as a museum curator, Anderson had received nuanced but not uncritical treatment in an article by American anthropologist Fred Myers (1994). Whatever other factors may have contributed to Anderson and Macdonald's openness to an independent academic shadowing them for several months, I believe they saw the potential for an experiment in enacting Newmont as a transparent corporation.
If so, this was an experiment that Anderson and Macdonald undertook from a position of weakness, not strength. Their newly prominent place in the corporate hierarchy was tenuous, and the future of CSR was as uncertain at Newmont as it was then in the mining industry and indeed the corporate world more generally.2 This chapter is about Anderson and Macdonald's struggle to acquire authority, resources, and legitimacy in order to enact Newmont as a responsible mining corporation. Though "responsible mining corporation" may strike many of us as oxymoronic (Benson and Kirsch 2010b), my goal here is to hew closely to my interlocutors' terms rather than produce yet another rearview-mirror critique of corporate responsibility for serving corporate interests. As I discussed in the introduction, this critique itself bears a striking resemblance to the "business case" that CSR proponents use as a forward-looking marketing device to promote their field, and both models overstate the seamlessness of the meld between responsibilities and interests.
Within the office towers of corporate headquarters, executives disagree, sometimes vehemently, about the appropriateness of CSR values and practices. The notion that CSR is in the "corporate interest" is not a given; advocates must continually make the case for it by framing and reframing the boundaries, interests, and responsibilities of the firm. Were CSR executives little more than empty vessels channeling preset corporate goals, if indeed their activities originated in the will of a metaphysical corporate actor or neoliberal capitalism writ large, then there would be little point in examining their ideas and behavior. If, however, no corporate actor exists independent of its ongoing enactments, then the practices and subjective experiences of those trying to "responsibilize" the corporation must be worthy of examination and thick description. Rather than treat CSR agents as ciphers, critics interested in reorienting corporations must take executives seriously as complex, thinking subjects who, like us, are also engaged in analyzing, interpreting, theorizing, and criticizing capitalism (Miyazaki 2013:6-7, 9, 13, 23).3 These executives are engaged in a project of reform rather than revolution, but the nature of that reform-and of the corporation itself-is never fully predetermined.
"We need to Newmontize folk!" declared Alan, a manager with oversight of land and permitting, at a planning meeting. "We've got all the programs to draw on from Batu." At issue was Newmont's start-up gold mine project in Ghana. With significant social and environmental problems already on the horizon, Alan was stressing the need to instill Newmont's standards and values in contractors in Ghana. Behind this statement stood the assumption that Newmont itself was unevenly responsible or "Newmontized." Depending on one's perspective, some mine operations, such as Batu Hijau in Sumbawa, could serve better than others as models for enacting an aspirational and idealized conception of the responsible mining firm.
In their efforts to frame the corporation as responsible, managers shift-sometimes rapidly-between a pancorporate identity articulated around the firm as a whole and more partisan identifications with their fields of expertise ("disciplines") or their mine sites. These identifications are often articulated in contradistinction to other industries, corporations, disciplines, mine sites, or corporate headquarters. They enact the corporation in ways that frame it as a whole or as separate parts, expand and contract corporate boundaries, and embrace or estrange various actors and responsibilities.
Denver, Colorado, as Corporate Home Address
In 2003, Newmont's headquarters occupied floors thirty-four through thirty-six of the Wells Fargo Center, an imposing structure and-with its cash-register shape-an iconic part of the downtown Denver skyline. The firm's geophysical, metallurgy, microbiology, analytical, and mineralogy departments were housed in the Malozemoff Technical Facility, named after a former Newmont CEO, in an office park in Englewood, on the southern outskirts of the city.4 Newmont relocated its corporate headquarters from New York to downtown Denver in 1988, moving its exploration, engineering, and computer services from Arizona and Connecticut to Denver as well. The consolidation was meant to integrate management and bring it closer to Newmont's U.S. assets and areas of exploration (Newmont 1989:4).
Leaving Manhattan was probably a money-saving maneuver, and it positioned the company in a state that had long embraced the mining industry. Colorado's growth in sectors ranging from mining and agriculture to tourism has long depended heavily on fossil fuels (Andrews 2008); natural resource exploitation was likely facilitated by the lack of formal recognition for American Indian land rights in the state.5 Extraction is economically welcome, politically nurtured, and culturally celebrated. The Colorado School of Mines, a state institution founded in the 1870s in Golden, west of Denver, promoted in its early decades a masculine culture around the notion of the western frontier and the technological mastery of (feminized) nature (LeCain 2009:56-60).6 State and national mining history is commemorated in local museums and old mining towns,7 which shed light on a harsh industrial past and in some cases parlay it into romantic kitsch for tourist consumption. Colorado's coal mines saw some of the bloodiest labor battles of the past century (Andrews 2008), and mining has contaminated the state's streams, lakes, groundwater, and soil. Although Newmont no longer has any active mines in the state, it operated several there in the past. In 1983, Colorado sued Idarado Mining Company, a Newmont subsidiary that operated near Telluride, under the Superfund Act, forcing the company to carry out environmental remediation in the 1990s.
Although I heard executives complain that Newmont ought to do more to raise its local profile, the company was engaged with and embraced by a range of local institutions. For example, Newmont speakers made regular appearances at the Denver Mining Club, which describes itself as "the oldest active organization of its type in Colorado" and brings together largely retired miners for a weekly lunch and mine-related talk or film.8 I accompanied Chris Anderson to one such speaking event at a local Country Buffet restaurant. We were both promptly and jovially inducted into the club (which automatically included membership in the "Colorado Chapter of the International Order of Ragged Ass Miners") and presented with certificates to that effect. Newmont employees also help run the mining booth at the annual "A Taste of Colorado" festival in Denver. At the booth, children can play at panning for gold (figure 1), while informational displays and brochures created by the Colorado-based Mineral Information Institute educate the public on the hazards of old mines (emphasizing individual education and responsibility for staying clear of them), contemporary reclamation practices, and the millions of pounds of minerals, metals, and fuels every American supposedly needs in her lifetime. One display with a baby doll depicts minerals, metals, and fuels nourishing human life rather than, as environmental critics would claim, destroying it (figure 2). The display addresses "every American," but the baby doll with which it invites identification is racially coded as white. The Mineral Information Institute furnishes teachers with curricular materials to recruit young children, not only as potential miners, but also as citizen-consumers cognizant of their implication in and dependence on extractive industries. Promoting similar themes, Newmont has hosted a Science Day for schoolchildren at its technical facility.9 The company has won various social and environmental awards from local media, and top executives have also been accorded various honors by local universities.10 Local critics (Gordon 2003; Lewis 2007) question on principle the granting of such awards to a mining company and its CEO and voice concerns that such awards consolidate potential conflicts of interest (through the reciprocities of corporate donations, academic consulting, etc.).
Newmont's chief critic in Colorado during the period of my fieldwork was Global Response, a nonprofit environmental action and education network located in Boulder. Global Response coordinated letter-writing and media campaigns in response to issues such as Newmont's plan to mine in Ghana's national forest, and it helped to organize an activist presence and protests at Newmont's shareholder meetings. In 2003, the organization mobilized people to write thousands of emails and hundreds of letters to CEO Wayne Murdy opposing Newmont's proposed mine in Ghana.
CSR among the Corporate Disciplines
Organization theorists have called attention to a tendency among academics to treat management as monolithic by neglecting power relations among managers and lumping executives together as if they shared common views on strategy and policy arising from lockstep fealty to firm interests (Anteby 2013; Jacoby 2005:4). In the United States at least, executives often identify more closely with their domain of expertise, with what Anderson and Macdonald referred to as their "discipline."11 This term, more familiar in academic settings, connotes distinct epistemological fields within a corporation, each with its own distinct history, set of canons, and social conventions. Geology, metallurgy, engineering, investor relations, security, and human resources are among the disciplines at Newmont. The executives at headquarters who were in charge of a particular discipline set policy for the global mine sites, but they were linked only "by a dotted line" to their disciplinary counterparts who served as on-site managers and reported to the general manager or president of the subsidiary company. Annual meetings (known as "collegiates") brought together managers of the same discipline from operations around the globe.
An excerpt from notes I took during a meeting over a planned mining project will give a sense of the disciplinary divisions at corporate headquarters. CSR-aligned managers (Helen, Kwabena, and Alan) and engineers from the mine Projects and Operations Department (Bill, Ilana, and Tim) here debate the project's construction start date.
Bill (Projects engineer): Can you promise to get some of the land more quickly? Like for the construction camp. We're only talking about the size of a football field. Like two hundred by two hundred meters.
Alan (land manager): No. We're not promising anything like that, more quickly.
Kwabena (CSR manager): Even if you're only talking about ten by ten meters, someone might live there.
Alan: There's no way I'm going to promise you a single case. That could jeopardize the whole negotiation process. Don't forget we are creating our own cost increases as we go along. Soft issues are hard issues.
Ilana (mining engineer): Maybe there's a problem of resources that needs to be addressed here. If it costs us a million per month to put off a project, and it would cost less than that to speed up negotiations considerably, maybe we should just put more money into negotiations.
Alan [voice raised and visibly annoyed]: There are too many inconceivables in negotiations to assign a date. More resources? What do you want? Six negotiators? That will only lead to confusion. We need to have two chief negotiators who will control everything and write everything. You cannot maximize negotiating resources. When you balance an artificial deadline of going into production in the third quarter of 2006 against doing the job right and going into production in fourth quarter of 2006, you have to ask yourself what the difference is. . . . Let's ask Wayne [CEO] or Pierre [president] what they think. I don't care about the money that you could be making by starting six months earlier. I don't care. You can put it on the back end or take it out somewhere else.
Helen: By doing any construction before the end of the negotiations we would also violate the IFC [International Finance Corporation] principles by putting pressure on people. . . .
Bill [joking]: You guys are harder to negotiate with than the community. We'll give a few more months.
Alan: Now listen, we need money to do our work, and we can't worry about an extra twenty or thirty thousand dollars here or there.
Tim (Operations director): OK, we'll open the checkbook a little on this one.
Helen: Keep this in mind, the IFC would say the schedule is still aggressive.
Bill: All right, we'll move the construction start date back two months.
Bill's "you guys" captures the fractious relationship between corporate managers, who are often far from being "diligent souls work[ing] contentedly towards a universally accepted goal" (Fleming and Spicer 2007:11). Through their hard-line posturing and jokes, participants in this exchange relate and interact "via a set of conventionalized role expectations" (Mazzarella 2003:27), with engineers wanting to get the project up and running fast, and CSR managers wanting to slow it down, to keep the start date flexible in order to "prepare the community." Alan anticipated this dynamic before the meeting, telling the CSR executives that Projects would want to "hold a schedule up and say, 'Look [CEO] Wayne, I'm a hero!'" Macdonald later explained to me that Alan was particularly defensive because this was the first time he had been given a real say on the project start date in a meeting of this kind; he had been accustomed to having deadlines determined by others, and his own work ignored or devalued.12
At Newmont, CSR executives were not alone in their sense of being embattled or marginalized. They had a close alliance with the disciplines of Health, Safety, and Loss Prevention and Environment.13 Of the three disciplines, CSR was relatively junior; the others had a longer history in mining and enjoyed greater legitimacy (land manager Alan referred to safety as Newmont's "sacred cow").14 I would call all three ameliorative disciplines insofar as their role is to mitigate the negative social and environmental consequences that mining routinely produces. Financially, they are regarded within the corporation as cost centers rather than profit centers. Representatives of ameliorative disciplines are thus under pressure to justify their activities in a way that, say, geologists or engineers in a mining company are not. Although these disciplines may help mining companies comply with laws and garner environmental and social awards, which in turn support employee morale and serve a public relations function, for the most part they have relatively low visibility in the absence of breakdowns (such as worker deaths, toxic spills, or human rights scandals). They have a counterfactual dimension, working effectively when no problems are visible. A trained anthropologist and CSR executive at the London-based mining giant Rio Tinto told me how easy it is to get management to spend on social issues when a mine has lost its "social license" (a key CSR term and concept for extractive industries, registering the agency that local communities and NGOs can exercise over the ability of extractive companies to operate in a particular region). It is much harder, she said, to get the budget you need to maintain the social license when all appears to be well.15
For these reasons, executives in the ameliorative disciplines are under constant pressure to document their practices and relevance. For example, I attended a lengthy meeting between a senior Health, Safety, and Loss Prevention executive and a National Lightning Safety Institute representative investigating the death of a contractor killed by lightning at a Newmont site in Sumatra. The executive told me afterward that he had learned nothing from the meeting, but the fact of having convened it would be useful if he wanted to recommend changes. Similarly, a communications consultant instructed Anderson to document all external meetings for potential value added, warning him, "If you're holding a meeting with a government official like the prime minister of Tartar Land that might produce future benefits, you need to document this. If I was the CEO and didn't hear good evidence for why such meetings were being held, I'd say, 'You are an expense, goodbye!'"
CSR practitioners' ambiguous status with respect to basic corporate production and profit-making functions is expressed in the stereotypes attached to them and in their responses to these. Like Environment Department managers, whom I heard jokingly referred to by other mine officials as "hippies" and "tree-huggers," CSR practitioners risk being seen as having "alternative" and politically progressive ideas, identities, and lifestyles. Discussing a CSR report commissioned by the company, retired Newmont Investor Relations vice president and corporate biographer Jack Morris (2010:327) remarked on "the leftist orientation of the CSR fraternity." The report, he wrote, "left no doubt that indigenous rights should trump corporate rights; that it is the company's responsibility to address every need, every want, and every perceived slight within miles of its mines; and that dialogue is the only option for resolving differences. There was no acknowledgement that some demands have been outrageous or that protests were staged by outside organizations." Morris's published views, although not directed at Newmont's own CSR executives, suggest that they might be seen and see themselves partly as outsiders, members of an alien and potentially unwelcome fraternity imposing impractical and unwanted ideas and pandering to the excessive demands of NGOs and indigenous communities.
CSR practitioners alternately emphasized and suppressed their epistemological and political distinctiveness. During a collegiate meeting that brought together CSR managers from Newmont's sites around the globe, Anderson rejected an image of feminized piety by asserting, "We don't want to be like nuns, always saying 'Thou shalt not . . .'"16 An Australian manager concurred, adding, "We don't need to emphasize that we're so special and different and act like bleeding heart liberals." One afternoon I accompanied Max, a communications executive, and Kwabena, a CSR manager from Ghana, on an excursion to Boulder, a progressive university town northwest of Denver, to take part in a radio interview involving several environmental and social justice NGOs. Alan, the land manager, drolly asked us to return with some granola, as well as some of that soap whose name he struggled to recall. (I supplied the name, Dr. Bronner's, confirming my own political Otherness.)
A relevant analogy here would be the experience of diversity workers in university settings, who find diversity constantly invoked as an institutional value even as the institution resists the work they are charged with carrying out (Ahmed 2012:17). Sara Ahmed (15, 22) notes that diversity practitioners "simultaneously experience themselves as working 'for' and 'against' institutions"; they "do not simply work at institutions, they also work on them given that their explicit remit is to redress existing institutional goals or priorities." Diversity, Ahmed shows, is a multivalent resource, deployed to challenge social injustice, organize commitment, and go beyond compliance and legality, but also to construct an aesthetic and moral order, provide comfort, suppress histories, celebrate and valorize "digestible difference," and gain institutional advantages (rather than to challenge disadvantage). Like diversity workers, CSR managers are engaged in a fundamentally ambivalent form of work, often caught in what Jane Guyer calls the "midstreamness" of open-ended and indeterminate processes and the ethical dilemmas that emerge as projects deviate from their blueprints. Under these circumstances, Guyer (2011:S21) reflects, both meanings of "perseverance" resonate: "one-perseverance-implies a positive endorsement of staying power and the other-perseverance-an annoying and inappropriate hanging on and continual return to a project in life or topic of conversation that has outlived all possibility of bearing fruit."
Financial resources signify and constitute power within a corporation and, therefore, merit close attention from CSR managers striving to enact a responsible corporation. Like other corporate officials, CSR managers at Newmont at times expressed an ambition to enlarge their department's operating budget, as well as to be recognized as a core part of the overall corporate operating budget, not a discretionary expense that could be trimmed in hard times. They wanted to rid CSR of its "air of contingency" (Ahmed 2012:29). Yet budgets were only one way that CSR executives might measure corporate recognition of their discipline. CSR managers also struggled to ensure their inclusion in meetings and strategic decision-making processes. They met with some success: Anderson, for example, was a member of the powerful Operations Committee and was included in board meetings and functions. CSR executives evaluated their positions in organizational charts and reporting structures and frequently took stock of the CSR presence at mine sites, how much discretion they had in hiring and firing, and whom they could count as allies among the company's senior executives.
The Charisma and Routine of CSR
To enact Newmont as a responsible corporation, Anderson and Macdonald deployed tactics that I characterize in loosely Weberian terms as charismatic and rationalizing. The charismatic mode of CSR depends heavily on individual personality, storytelling, and performances that stage and elicit emotion as a way of mobilizing moral and affective dispositions. Working in this mode, CSR proponents seek to touch, recruit, and transform individuals. Weber (1946b:249, 251-52) portrays charisma as particularly appealing in conditions of warfare. Charismatic power springs from "faithful devotion . . . born of distress and enthusiasm" and entails openness to "the extraordinary and unheard-of, to what is strange to all rule and tradition."17 In the mining context, charismatic authority might be especially appealing at times when executives find a company has lost its social license to operate.
The rationalizing mode of CSR, by contrast, is devoted to the selection, installation, maintenance, and monitoring of standards and codes of conduct, which in turn are linked to public statements and incentive and disincentive mechanisms built into departmental and individual performance reviews. The rationalizing mode operates at the level of the organization, enveloping individuals in a system that should steer their conduct toward compliance with universalized ethics and rational resource allocations. While the charismatic mode acts upon intrinsic human consciousness and motivations, the rationalizing mode develops extrinsic rewards and punishments. Although I describe the two modes in binary terms, in practice they are copresent, often complementary, and arguably both requisite for the CSR discipline to take root.
In the pages that follow, we will see Anderson using a charismatic approach and Macdonald deploying more routinizing tactics in order to make Newmont more socially responsible. In some respects, Anderson's and Macdonald's distinctive approaches fit with their academic backgrounds. Anderson the anthropologist was attuned to cultivating interpersonal relations, improvising, delivering theatrical performances, and converting empirical evidence into memorable vignettes containing moral lessons. Macdonald, trained in the more universalizing discipline of philosophy, which prizes abstraction and reason, sought to establish mechanisms that upheld universal values and ensured continuous compliance with them.
Gender roles and stereotypes played into their contrasting approaches in complicated ways. "You talk, you walk," a senior vice president wryly instructed Anderson and Macdonald, respectively, shortly after meeting them. On the one hand, this fits with dominant gender conventions: for him the public posturing and glory, for her the details. On the other hand, affect and qualitative reasoning are conventionally coded as feminine, and metrics, standards, and quantitative, abstract, and rational reasoning as masculine. Yet the very existence of such stereotypes grants male executives greater latitude to emote. Scholars have shown corporate settings to be zones of passionate engagement where masculine identities are shaped and staged in complex ways (Allison 1994; Collinson and Hearn 1996; Roper 1994; Schoenberger 20n1). For female executives, however, the range of permissible comportment is much narrower; at both ends of the emotional spectrum from impassioned to impassive, professionally perilous stereotypes abound: trivial "cookies" and "fluffheads," supportive "pets," nurturing "mothers," dangerous "seductresses," or coldly ambitious "calculating bitches" or "iron maidens" (Jackall 1988:56; Kanter 1977:233-36).18 Macdonald (and I) were often the gender minority in meetings. Reflecting the pattern of most large corporations (and perhaps exaggerated by the association of mining with masculinity), Newmont's upper executive ranks were dominated by men-with the exception of Human Resources, a marginalized and feminized discipline in the United States, and one which scholars have described as among "the lowest-prestige divisions in most major companies" (Khurana 2002:124) and "normally the wasteland of the corporate world" (Jackall 1988:36).19
Anderson strove in various ways to highlight the human dimensions of the company rather than allow it to be faceless. He hired a consultant to make a video for the firm's website (since removed) in which he and fellow executives discussed the company's approach to community relations. He acknowledged criticism from colleagues about the expense of the video, and for his starring role in it, but insisted this was not so much an act of self-aggrandizement as an attempt to get Newmont's human faces seen and voices heard. Notwithstanding the gender convention associating women with affect (Shever 2010), it was he who embraced the view that it could be appropriate and strategic to publicly display emotions, whether these were sorrow, concern, humility, and contrition for mistakes made, pride over goals achieved, or measured anger and righteous indignation over what corporate officials saw as false activist claims about the social and environmental harm caused by mining operations. Speaking at a CSR collegiate to CSR managers from mine sites around the globe, Anderson said, "We need to let [NGOs and activists] see our vulnerability and weakness so they see the process we go through." They needed to rhetorically relinquish control, Anderson continued, "because we never really had it in the first place." A recurrent theme for him (and others at corporate headquarters) was that Newmont's legal team was always trying to stifle attempts to reach out to and engage the public out of fear that such statements might be used against the company in court.20
If Anderson had a theory of affect, Macdonald had a theory of risk, as we will see. Yet neither executive operated exclusively in either the rational or the charismatic mode. Anderson believed in signing on to standards and codes of conduct that could improve Newmont's practices and confer credibility. At one interdisciplinary meeting I observed, he enthusiastically supported Newmont's adoption of the cyanide code, saying that as the world's largest "goldie" (gold producer) Newmont should beat out other companies and sign on first (figure 3).21 The business case for CSR, which I described in the introduction, and which fits well with the rationalizing mode, also ran through many of the stories he told, providing a structuring device for "lessons learned" and a bottom-line rationale for "doing the right thing." Similarly, Macdonald worked hard to build personal relationships with industry actors and NGOs and appreciated that this aspect of her work was crucial to the success of CSR. She also served as a public speaker in forums such as the annual Business for Social Responsibility meetings. But humanizing Newmont's public persona constituted a smaller part of her everyday work, which focused instead on building global human-rights standards and "best practices" for community relations into Newmont's management systems.
Reining in a Rogue Discipline
Do company geologists act in the firm's interests? The answer depends on how these interests are defined. Much talk of exploration work among CSR officials revolved around the figure of the rogue geologist, a reckless and culturally insensitive cowboy. At Newmont's international CSR collegiate, one manager noted that geologists sometimes "seriously misbehave"-for instance, by using drill rigs on a farmer's land without requesting permission. An American CSR manager from Newmont's Peruvian mine commiserated: "One of the nice things about coming to these meetings is reassuring yourself that you're not alone." To the larger group, he recounted how an exploration contractor was "run out of town by the community" for going on someone's land. The contractor knew he was violating proper procedure but "just wanted to go another fifty meters," later saying, "We thought we'd do it and run." Another manager shook his head and added, "They just go wherever they want to after getting information. Some do ninja exploration at night, trespassing and sampling on property where they aren't allowed; refusing to reveal results to property owners, when in fact it should be the property owner's data; stealing rocks." Another chimed in, "Sometimes you have to hold their hands, and other times you have to put your hand over their mouths."
The "value driver" behind geologists' bad behavior, CSR managers agreed, was reserve replacement: the need to replace the gold reserves mined each year with an equivalent (or preferably greater) quantity of fresh "booked" reserves.22 This is the basic capitalist imperative of perpetual growth applied to nonrenewable resources. As the CSR manager for Peru put it during a conference call following the collegiate, "The bonus structure of geologists depends on how many ounces of gold they find, not on how well they maintain the social license." During the collegiate, however, Macdonald noted that with Newmont's new management systems (described later in the chapter) more than half of the performance questions posed to employees were about values, violation of which could be cause for firing. Anderson recounted firing an exploration team member in Sumatra who had responded to his insistence that he remove his shoes before entering a community member's home with: "You've got to show them who's boss." Note that Macdonald's hypothetical firing of a worker results from a violation of the system, whereas Anderson's story centers on personally firing an employee. "The question," an Australian manager said in response to this exchange, "is how do we get those values to penetrate?"
Anderson and Macdonald had a chance to do this when they were invited to address the exploration collegiate meeting. Before we walked into the room full of geologists, Anderson reminded me that Lévi-Strauss (1992) had found geology to be one of the most humanistic of natural science disciplines, drawing inspiration from it alongside psychoanalysis and Marxism. Speaking to the assembled geologists, Anderson drew on a stock of cautionary tales: the twenty-four-year-old man in Turkey who showed up demanding the job that a geologist had, over a decade earlier, promised his father would be held for the young boy when he grew up; the guys in Turkey who brought in busloads of prostitutes on company buses and put them up in company housing; the drill contractor in Ghana who said he went on someone's land by accident because he did not have a map ("That's odd for a geologist!"); and the "perhaps apocryphal" story of the young geologist who went onto a dairy farm in West Australia while the farmer was away, then left the gate open afterward, allowing all the cows to escape. In a more uplifting register, he played with the moral and economic connotations of value in describing how "values can create HVOs: high-value opportunities. The opportunity to take on projects that other companies can't crack. . . . We can go where it doesn't seem possible because we do things the right way." Anderson sought to confront the geologists with an image of themselves seen through the eyes of others, and then to frame their actions in terms of corporate interests that they could threaten or advance. In the process, he temporally reframed "corporate interests," supplanting the short-term goal of replacing reserves as quickly as possible with the longer-term goal of accessing high-value opportunities by "doing things the right way." Seen in this light, the "cowboy" approach was myopic, discipline-specific, and self-serving rather than an expression of loyalty to pancorporate interests.
The exploration managers acknowledged Anderson's critique to some extent. One admitted, "In the past, in the eighties, we were the worst. Did you take the time to sit down with a mayor when you went exploring? No, you just snuck on to the real estate." Another quipped, "We have seen the enemy and it is us." Yet some pushed back, putting the CSR executives on the defensive. One remarked, "I just got back from Ghana, and I heard that there are already lots of social problems. Are you community guys there, doing anything?" Anderson responded, "At Ahafo there are twelve pits spread over thirty kilometers with twenty adjacent villages. So that's thousands of people, and of course there will always be social issues there. We just need to know what they are and manage them intelligently. Kwabena [a CSR manager in Ghana] is like the Dutch boy holding his finger in the dam, keeping expectations at bay." This prompted another to ask, "Is Kwabena the guy with the black BMW?" "No," another responded, "he has the Mercedes. The one with the BMW is Kwabena's assistant." The subtext of these remarks was that Kwabena, a CSR manager as well as traditional leader and trained lawyer, and his assistant were inappropriately wealthy. Anderson shot back: "I don't care what sort of car Kwabena has; he's doing a good job and deserves compensation." Macdonald added that the problem in Ghana was the lack of "money or the leeway at this point to do what needs to be done." In arguing that CSR was insufficiently resourced in Ghana, Anderson and Macdonald's defense of their mine-site CSR counterparts allowed the geologists to lose sight of how CSR was supposed to be everyone's responsibility.
After the meeting ended, a manager from Peru took Anderson aside and told him that his section had been "assigned one of the Social Affairs guys" for an exploration project. The presence of this "community guy" near one village had deeply upset the locals, who had issued an ultimatum: "Either you get him out of here right now or we will take his shoes and make him walk back barefoot, because we won't allow him to get in your truck again." One of their geologists, he added, had great relations with locals, while Social Affairs was despised. He mentioned an incident in which a fifteen-year-old had used a rifle to fire upon an exploration helicopter. Anderson suggested that the team take carefully selected local leaders along on future rides. "Then, in the future, they won't be so afraid of the whole process, because it has been demystified, and they'll know who's in the helicopter. They will also be less likely to fire on a helicopter if they know their uncle might be in it!" If the helicopter represents the company, Anderson's suggestion implied, then put some of the community inside it, making it no longer wholly foreign and threatening, and blurring the distinction between an attack on the company and an attack on the community. Enacting the corporation as part of the community is a security strategy, one I elaborate on in greater detail in chapter 5. In offering this suggestion, Anderson here showed his ability to improvise and stage events bringing together opposed sets of actors, as he had done earlier, at Normandy Mining, by coordinating a news event that involved executives playfully bathing in a tailings dam in Turkey.
Before and after Choropampa
Newmont's past and ongoing social controversies ranged from its ownership stake in mines in apartheid-era South Africa to its joint venture with the government of Uzbekistan (which stood accused of human rights violations and employed prison labor in the project). But Newmont's 2000 mercury spill in Peru was especially resonant.
Emphasizing the sense of rupture the spill generated at corporate headquarters, a security executive told me, "We talk about BC and AC: Before Choropampa and After Choropampa." For practitioners of Newmont's ameliorative disciplines-Health and Safety, Environment, and CSR-Choropampa was shorthand for a collective trauma that had to be remembered and prevented from recurring. Early in my time at Newmont's headquarters, an open screening of Choropampa: The Price of Gold for Newmont employees took place on Anderson's initiative. The scathing 2002 documentary on the spill and its aftermath (by independent filmmakers Ernesto Cabellos and Stephanie Boyd) was then being screened at Sierra Club chapters and film festivals in the United States and abroad, winning acclaim and multiple awards for its powerful portrayal of campesinos claiming they had been poisoned by-and demanding justice from-a large U.S. corporation.23 Newmont's Communications Department had obtained a copy of the film through the public relations firm APCO.24
The spill occurred on June 2, 2000, as a truck driver made his way down the mountain roads from Newmont's Minera Yanacocha mine warehouse in Peru with a load of mercury. The mercury, a marketable by-product of Newmont's profitable gold mine, was destined for Lima. Had it arrived there, it might have been marketed to the informal mining sector (which Newmont managers frequently condemned for polluting the environment with mercury; see chapter 5).25 Unbeknownst to the truck driver, two of the containers he was transporting were leaking, dribbling a trail of 330 pounds of mercury along a twenty-five-mile stretch of road. The mercury pooled under the truck in the small towns of Choropampa, San Juan, and Magdalena, where the driver, who happened to be suffering from intestinal distress that day, had stopped. Campesinos gathered the strange liquid from the highway, bringing it into their homes. Some boiled it in the hope of recovering gold. Children divided it among their friends. In warm homes with little ventilation, the volatile substance easily vaporized. Because mercury has an affinity for organic matter and clay, it also burrowed deep into dirt floors and attached to wooden beams, roofs, walls, clothing, and household goods.
A day after the spill occurred, it came to the attention of mine officials. Using ambulance loudspeakers, they attempted, with little success, to persuade campesinos to part with the mercury they had collected. Officials' claims that the mercury was toxic were met with slammed doors and suspicion. Some campesinos still hoped that gold was in the mercury and might be recovered. Taking another tack, officials offered to pay campesinos to relinquish the mercury. This strategy proved more effective but introduced fresh risks: some people imported mercury to sell to the mine, often handling it with few precautions. Close to a thousand people developed symptoms of mercury poisoning.
During my one brief meeting with the CEO, Murdy told me he had only learned about the mercury spill four or five days after it occurred, which "really upset" him. Cutting short his trip to Indonesia and flying immediately to Peru, he had visited the hospital room of the victim worst afflicted. He displaced Newmont's responsibility for her dire condition-she was unlikely to recover and regain a normal life-by noting it might have been caused by a severe allergic reaction to the medicine administered to treat her. Murdy had also met her two brothers, describing the whole encounter as "a very powerful human experience."
In his talk at the Denver Mining Club, Anderson rhetorically minimized the scope of the spill as well as Newmont's responsibility, claiming rather improbably that the amount of mercury spilled could have fit into two large coke bottles,26 and underscoring that it was a contractor rather than a Newmont employee who spilled it. But in the next breath he brought the accident back within Newmont's purview, noting that "communities will see to it that the mining company is held responsible for contractors, and this is, in fact, how it should be." Emphasizing the point, he added, "Almost all of Newmont's fatalities in the past ten years have been contractors."
Anderson's goal in screening Choropampa for Newmont staff and executives was to foster organizational introspection and openness to transformation, which he saw as a prerequisite to "moralizing" the corporation.27 As Webb Keane (2010:73) observes, "The cognitive capacity to take another's perspective-both to see things from his or her point of view and to see oneself from the outside-is often taken to be an essential precondition for morality." Newmont executives were critical of the documentary, but also disturbed by the mercury spill and its consequences and by some of the behavior the film documented among Newmont's Social Affairs workers in Peru. In one unflattering scene, a Newmont official tells impoverished campesinos to hire a lawyer if they have a problem with the company.28 Anderson told me that when Newmont's top executives watched the film they had an "aha moment." One declared, "We're racist." A senior vice president subsequently called Anderson to his office and proposed that Newmont "audit our people who are out there and figure out who shouldn't be there, and whether we should fire or rehabilitate them." In the idealized construction of the moral corporation, what cannot be reformed should be excised. But this is easier said than done. Finding and firing the offending individuals can be difficult; relations may be hard to sever and a better replacement is not necessarily easily available. Years after the spill, complaints about the Yanacocha mine's Social Affairs officers remained widespread.
Some Newmont executives saw the corporation as a whole-"us"-as racist. Others demanded the "bad apples" be identified and removed. The work of recognizing institutional or individual racism raises fundamental and fairly intractable dilemmas (Ahmed 2012:44-48, 150). On the one hand, when people recognize institutional racism, it becomes easy for individuals to excuse themselves or disidentify with this racism. A "before-and-after narrative" can also emerge in which the act of recognizing and confessing to racism is seen as exorcising it, moving the institution into a new place. On the other hand, the identification of individual racists within an organization (bad apples) makes it easy to underestimate the scope and scale of the problem and to fail to account for how it is institutionally reproduced.
In addition to exposing racist beliefs and practices in the company, the mercury spill was expensive.29 But this very expense was useful to representatives of the ameliorative disciplines, who could invoke it in support of the business case for corporate responsibility. Beyond its direct costs in the form of remediation and compensation, the accident galvanized local opposition to Newmont's plans to expand operations to nearby Cerro Quilish and, later, Conga. In his talk at the Denver Mining Club, Anderson noted that the community had warned the company that there would be "blood on the streets," that the company would only mine Cerro Quilish "over their dead bodies." Newmont executives and geologists had hoped to add the gold deposit to company reserve estimates, thereby boosting stock prices. Anderson guessed that with "very intelligent, targeted, and strategic work with the community" over two to three years the company might "earn the social license" to mine Cerro Quilish. His assessment proved too optimistic. In 2012, after Newmont announced that it would move forward to mine Cerro Quilish and the $4.8 billion Conga mine, demonstrations and bloodshed ensued. Police fired live ammunition on protestors, killing five (Wade and Aquino 2012).
The mercury spill had attracted unwelcome international attention as well. A communications executive told me that high-volume institutional investors began asking questions they seemed to be pulling off the website of the activist organization Project Underground. Rumors circulated in Denver that Erin Brockovich, whose role in a pollution lawsuit against Pacific Gas and Electric Company was made famous in a movie starring Julia Roberts, planned to help launch a massive lawsuit against Newmont. Renowned investigative reporter and television news producer Lowell Bergman (who was played by Al Pacino in The Insider, a tobacco industry exposé based on a true story) devoted an episode of the acclaimed Public Broadcasting Service show Frontline to the mine. The episode implied that Newmont paid bribes to Vladimiro Montesinos, the notorious right-hand man of Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, in order to get a favorable court settlement in a dispute with a French state-owned company that had partnered with Newmont (Frontline 2005).
Newmont, it seemed, was increasingly playing the role of villain in a movie script over which executives exercised little control. Peruvian campesinos began showing up at annual shareholder meetings to protest, and the CEO's elderly mother began asking her son what all the criticism in the papers was about.30 Executives smirked a bit at the idea of the CEO being interrogated by his mother, but she clearly registered as a kind of moral barometer and proxy for a broader public. If seeing oneself through the eyes of others is a precondition for morality, those others may be distant, abstract, and mediated, or as near as loved ones whose questions-in bedrooms and over breakfast tables-demand that executives account for themselves and for the collective subject of the corporation.31 Producing these accounts can, in turn, generate questions: Why did it take so long for me to hear about the accident? Why were we using that contractor, or those containers, to move mercury? What are our procedures for communicating and handling accidents, for transporting mercury, and for selecting contractors? Could this happen with another toxin or at one of our other mines?
Disasters, as Fortun's 2001 study of Bhopal shows, have no fixed beginning or end point and often recur and reverberate in different registers. They are like wounds that will not heal, as the 2012 deaths of mine protestors in Peru may have reminded some Newmont executives. At the same time, disasters like the Exxon Valdez spill can be mobilized as an "origins myth for internal reform and redemption" (Coll 2012:603). "Organizational encounters with risk," Hutter and Power (2005:24-25) write, "problematize the meaning and identity of organization itself, a process in which the possibility of rational management is placed in question, where promises of control and existing orders are broken down and challenged, where the distinction between experts and non-experts is no longer clear, and where the social permeability of organizations is increasingly apparent." For Hutter and Power (25) this is "the organization's encounter with itself. And in this self-encounter, ambivalence is usually tolerated only temporarily before it demands the restoration of order via re-organizing." For executives in Newmont's ameliorative disciplines, Choropampa was a piece of corporate history and identity that could be invoked for the project of enacting Newmont as a moral corporation. It was a tool for rethinking-and getting others to rethink-the nature, boundaries, interests, and responsibilities of the corporation.
Creating aha moments and converts did not simply generate a sense of affirmation for Anderson and Macdonald; it was also crucial to cultivating alliances and strengthening CSR's position within the corporation. But this strategy has its limits. To the extent that CSR depends on the personal values of company employees, it remains weak. Converts' commitment to and grasp of CSR might be incomplete, they might "backslide" or cave in to deep-seated older tendencies, and they might at any moment retire, die, or leave the company for positions elsewhere. It was impractical to try to individually convert all relevant Newmont employees, much less every contractor on whom the company relied. To cement the place of CSR within Newmont, Anderson and Macdonald sought instead to institutionalize it in corporate-wide management systems. The development of such systems was also crucial for enhancing CSR's legitimacy throughout the corporation-in the eyes of Newmont's CSR critics and proponents alike.
The Social License to Operate
Newmont's restructuring in the wake of the Normandy and Franco-Nevada acquisitions in 2002 served as the catalyst for rationalizing CSR initiatives. With this restructuring, senior management charted an official course for corporate transformation inspired in part by the program for change outlined in Jim Collins's Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don't (2001). The business best-seller struck a chord with CEO Wayne Murdy, who made it mandatory reading for managers at Newmont's mine sites around the world (although by the time it reached their bookshelves Murdy's enthusiasm had reportedly moved on other titles).32 Good to Great encourages companies to understand what they can do better than anyone else in the world and to engage in a disciplined pursuit of this objective. To forge a unified identity, Newmont developed a new logo, vision ("Creating Value with Every Ounce"), and set of values that Murdy encouraged employees to "live" and hold one another accountable to.33 The values were printed on business cards and distributed to employees. While speaking at the CSR colloquium (and showing his support for the discipline with his very presence), a senior vice president of operations fished out his card from his wallet and read from it as if to demonstrate how these values ought to structure the thoughts of executives who encounter ethical dilemmas. Though Anderson later remarked on the awkward, staged quality of the gesture, he grasped its intent, which hewed to one of Collins'sresearch team's findings: successful companies instill well-articulated and strongly held values in employees.34
Alongside this makeover of corporate image and values, Newmont was meant to undergo a corporate-wide "wave of transformation" titled the "Social License to Operate," defined as "the acceptance and belief by society, and specifically, our local communities, in the value creation of our activities, such that we are allowed to access and extract mineral resources" (Murdy n.d.). The social license concept underscores that the corporation must meet not only government regulations but also the expectations of various nongovernmental actors who may facilitate or impede mining. The notion was that Newmont continuously had to earn from local communities the social license to operate. The adoption of the Social License to Operate program, moreover, was supposed to usher in a wider transformation of corporate practice.35
The principal mechanism for ushering in this transformation was the Integrated Management System (IMS) for Health and Safety, Environment, and Community and External Relations (which focused most closely on CSR issues). A revised version of the system developed at Normandy, the IMS was a complex system for corporate-wide collection, management, and analysis of data on performance and compliance with social license standards. The system had multiple components. The first was a set of corporate-wide standards for Health and Safety, Environment, and CSR derived from risk management studies and voluntary corporate responsibility codes in which Newmont participates (described further in chapter 6). Along with these standards, Newmont implemented a process for assessing adherence by various units. This was known as the Five Star Integrated Assessment (see chapter 6).
Second, the IMS instituted a data acquisition program requiring that regional sites record social license data in data acquisition workbooks (following a standardized format on Excel spreadsheets) that were submitted to, and required signatures from, various executives in the corporate hierarchy (discipline-specific manager, site line manager, mine general manager, headquarters). At headquarters, executives could aggregate data from multiple mine sites, compare those to one another, and scrutinize their individual trajectories over time. Combining data from the Five Star Assessments and these data acquisition procedures, headquarters could also produce public reports on the performance of Newmont's various Health and Safety, Environment, and CSR Departments (see chapter 6).
Third, the IMS introduced Rapid Response, a training program and set of procedures designed to enable corporate staff to use a "severity matrix" to assess safety, environment, or community "incidents" that might attract negative public scrutiny and to formulate the appropriate response, rapidly deploying mine site, regional, and corporate teams to mitigate and manage such incidents. In these rapid-response trainings, executives role-played various scenarios: in one, a miner has gone missing and is presumed to be underground; in another, which takes place in "a developing country," a car accident occurs near a mine, killing five villagers from the same family and injuring the mine site's general manager. Finally, the IMS included discipline-specific programs, such as equipment maintenance or leadership in the Health and Safety Department, reclamation in the Environment Department, and social impact assessment in CSR. CSR's discipline-specific programs included training in the use of Peter Sandman's licensed software and manual (Sandman 1993) for developing corporate plans to predict and manage "community outrage."
The Integrated Management System promised to constitute and legitimate the ameliorative disciplines by bringing new rigor to documentation and risk management practices. Speaking at the CSR collegiate, Macdonald said, "In order for our department to be taken seriously, we need management systems like every other part of the business. We need to document our work and deliver a consistent performance, like the safety department does." The turn to documentation also involves the production of numbers, recalling Porter's 1995 insight that quantitative reasoning is a way to shore up the power of a disciplinary field that is weak. Ahmed (2012:75) similarly notes how the use of data "aids the production of the competent self."
The various components of the Integrated Management System constituted an explicit attempt to hold the transnational corporation together as a unified and responsible entity, to turn it into something more than "a complex tangle of remotely related parts" (Fortun 2001:93). The difficulty and scale of this project underscores just how heterogeneous corporations are. The system was also meant to centralize knowledge, to render mine sites more legible and amenable to control from headquarters, as well as to foster better self-governance. Disputes over the Integrated Management System that appear here and in the final chapter reveal struggles over the place of CSR itself in the corporation. Ideally, the Integrated Management System would help install and expand the standards of the ameliorative disciplines across space (to mine sites in North America, South America, the Southern Pacific, Central Asia, and Africa), time (over the lifetime of a mine, from ore discovery to closure monitoring), and epistemic divides (encompassing all the mining disciplines). From the early stages of mine planning, for example, a closure standard was meant to ensure a local staff's proper anticipation of the problems and costs of mine closure. From a CSR perspective, this could serve as a safeguard against general managers' historical practice of slashing CSR budgets during closure in order to earn a bonus for completing the process under budget. The system was supposed to be transparent in both input and output-requiring no esoteric knowledge to operate nor any to interpret its findings.
The Integrated Management System was poised to strengthen the position of CSR within the corporate hierarchy insofar as it rendered explicit CSR's role in the management of risks and benefits. Not everyone was completely comfortable with the underlying logic of this. Anderson, for example, once remarked that he found it "offensive" when communities were described as risks. Macdonald, by contrast, was unruffled; for her, the link between CSR and risk was an open and unembarrassing fact, not some dark or problematic secret that should be kept hidden.36 When I asked Macdonald how she performed social risk analysis, noting that it seemed to me a potentially vast and nebulous terrain, she replied that it was actually quite straightforward. Whereas the technical side of mining assesses "hazards," she explained, on the social side "we start by laying out the stakeholders, then the potential problems, like land and unemployment. Then we perform conventional risk analysis by estimating the scale and possible consequences."
The assumed link here between stakeholders and risk calls to mind Michael Power's analysis of the rise of a narrow and strategic concept of the stakeholder as any party that can influence, or be affected by, the advancement of a firm's objectives. The "normative operational task is to know ex ante who these stakeholders might be," and this "requires a broader view of the potential boundaries of a business or project" (2003b:152-53). While "stakeholders may not enter the corporation through the front door of legislative reform, they are entering via the back door of risk management and 'reputation assurance,'" altering in the process the boundaries between business and society (154). Instituting practices that account for stakeholders involves reframing business activities in order to internalize externalities (Callon 1998; Foster 2007:710).37
Morality, Michael Power (2003b:147) suggests, is increasingly processed through risk management systems because "the project of internalizing ideals of social and environmental responsibility is as much about embedding micro-systems and categories of information gathering as it is about appealing to individual morality or economic self-interest." A data acquisition worksheet soliciting information on each mine's community expenditures, for example, was designed to be comprehensive, capturing data on community projects that were not necessarily managed by community departments; operational and capital expenditures; outside funding sources, amounts, and purposes; and community investments that were direct and in-kind, with estimated monetary values given for the latter. A footnote clarified: "The word investment is now used to describe donations." The word investment was supposed to make explicit the expectation of "returns," in contrast to donation, which sounds charitable and altruistic. Macdonald showed me the template of a new form for recording such "investments," which solicited information on primary and secondary beneficiaries, as well as short- and long-term outcomes of the investment for both the company and recipients. She said in another conversation that she did not want to see any more "donations" but desired instead the "creation of partnerships that could be leveraged."
For adherents of the view that morality should be organizationally embedded, it makes better sense to pursue ethical outcomes by controlling the routines and habits of organizational life rather than the intentions of individual participants (Power 2003). Corporate social responsibilities can be linked to corporate risks, with tools like risk maps serving as powerful symbols of this rational integration (151). In the rationalizing mode, CSR does not depend upon the moral fiber and good intentions of individual managers and staff, which therefore do not need to be constantly cultivated or displayed. What the corporation should display is its organizational standards. The emphasis falls on formal rationality oriented toward organizational goals, rather than on substantive rationality, concerned with critical, reasoned reflection (Jackall 1988:80; Weber 1978:85-86).
Rolling Transformation Up and Out
It is one thing to develop a new management system, and another to persuade people to comply with it. In corporate parlance, the wave of transformation called the "Social License to Operate" had to be "rolled up" to senior executives and "rolled out" to the salaried workforce; people had to develop a sense of "investment" and "ownership" in the system. It would reach hourly workers only in a more limited fashion. To demonstrate his backing of the Integrated Management System, Newmont's CEO sent out a memo (Murdy n.d.) to all employees exhorting them to participate in earning Newmont's social license and describing himself as "particularly excited to be a part of the Rapid Response Program," so much so that he had "asked to be the first person at corporate headquarters" to be trained in it. Corporate headquarters required that each mine site establish a high-level "change council" responsible for aligning its existing data collection system with the new one, overseeing a gap analysis to check what was missing, and developing an action plan to fill those gaps.
Even at headquarters, support was not assured, despite the CEO's professed enthusiasm. Executives of the Health and Safety, Environment, and CSR Departments formed a "Five Star Shadow Steering Committee" devoted to expanding, refining, and promoting the system. The executives hoped to graduate from "shadow" to formal committee status, commanding a budget for their activities. Even they seemed daunted at times by the scale of their ambition for collecting knowledge and gaining control. "It's growing bigger and bigger, like Ben-Hur!" exclaimed an executive at one meeting, gaping in horror only half-feigned at a massive Excel spreadsheet illustrating the extension of Five Star Management Standards to early project phases. In another meeting over Newmont's public reports, communications and CSR executives expressed concern about their ability to handle the new influx of data sent in from mine sites around the world. The land manager, Alan, likened the transformation to "a wave: overwhelming!" Helen Macdonald assured fellow executives that the system was not so bad, and that once it was in place it would essentially "run itself."
Other executives expressed skepticism about the motives of top executives in organizing the transformation, explaining that having vastly overpaid for its acquisition of Normandy, incurring in the process reorganizational expenses (involving employee terminations, new trainings, alignment efforts, and legal costs), they were now trying to "add value" in the form of a new management system. One operations executive in Denver approved of it as a public relations maneuver, an instance of Newmont matching its "talk" to its "walk" (he thought Normandy excelled at public relations, but that Newmont was better at actual corporate responsibility performance). An Indonesian executive, by contrast, dismissed the "social license to operate" concept and program as an obvious attempt to "hypnotize" investors. Even those who felt enthusiasm for the Integrated Management System did not necessarily like the Social License to Operate concept attached to it. A veteran Environment executive in Denver said he hated the social license concept but "bought into" IMS because, with the takeovers, Newmont now operated so many mines that "I just can't keep track." Anderson called the social license concept "flimsy," while Macdonald conceded it had become "a dirty word." Having poured resources into attaching Newmont's name to the concept through the transformation program and a guidebook on the theme produced by the organization Business for Social Responsibility (BSR 2003),38 the executives resigned themselves to living with it.
Attitudes toward the transformation were much more mixed at the mine sites. At the CSR colloquium, managers expressed joint concerns about the burden of documentation imposed on them by the Integrated Management System, arguing that this was eating up employee time. They also called the Five Star Assessment into question with their concerns that it was insufficiently independent. "We're measuring ourselves," one American manager complained. An Australian manager concurred, asking, "Shouldn't we be benchmarking ourselves against other companies?" Macdonald vigorously defended the system, arguing that it was "light-years ahead" of the systems other mining companies were using. She felt that the site managers were confusing the function of IMS-a profound reworking of management systems and the establishment of new monitoring regimes-with the "popularity contests" run by various institutions that ranked social and environmental performance but were essentially based on self-reporting.
Macdonald's response to the charge that the Five Star Assessment lacked independence was complex. On the one hand, she had been a chief architect of the system at Normandy. She initially developed the Integrated Management System with Kurt Hammerschmid, an environmental auditor in Australia, by translating the environmental management standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 14001) into social standards that were later extended to safety. Deriving these standards from the ISO quality-control approach, Macdonald noted that they might have been extended to any discipline. The innovative part of the systems approach, from Macdonald's perspective, was the social standards that she developed along with several Australian consultants, one of whom was social auditor Richard Boele (see chapter 6). Macdonald's role in creating the Integrated Management System helps explain why she found it less intimidating than others did. From the moment of its adoption she enjoyed a level of comfort, familiarity, and dexterity with it that was unrivaled at Newmont. Her presence was probably crucial in adapting the system to its new corporate setting and in convincing various executives of its workability. On the other hand, in order to promote the system's universalizing character and credibility, she had to distance herself from her own authorial role and diminish its significance. When mine site managers identified her with the system even as they called its validity into question, she emphasized that it was designed to capture universal ethical codes, not her own beliefs and values.39
Though they demanded a system with universal legitimacy, mine site managers seemed to fault the Five Star Management Standards for being at odds with local obligations and commitments. At the Batu Hijau mine site, for example, External Relations had to commission an annual social impact assessment in order to meet Indonesian government requirements. After the Five Star Management Standards were introduced, Newmont's social auditors began evaluating these social impact assessments, finding them overpositive and questioning their quality and utility. Batu Hijau managers noted that they had chosen researchers from the University of Mataram to carry out the assessment as part of their commitment to hire (and cultivate) local experts rather than rely on more established and credentialed consultants from the top universities or NGOs in Java (who might have applied the latest research methods and offered more constructive critique).40 The commitment to local expertise seemed at odds with the auditors' demands for optimal quality standards.
The Integrated Management System was meant to generate a more durable and positive "economy of care" (Prentice n.d.) for measuring, monitoring, and ameliorating mine effects on the environment, workers, and local communities. As conceptualized at headquarters, this economy of care reflects liberal, secular ideals and a generalized concern for the "human," or distant strangers (Boltanski 1999; Bornstein and Redfield 2011; Sontag 2003). The "structure of feeling" that energizes it is indifferent, indifference signaling here not neglect (Herzfeld 1992) but rather the abstraction and universalism that population-level intervention requires (Stevenson 2012:593).41 Such indifference entails technologies of calculation, with the success or failure of care measured in infant mortality rates, maternal health outcomes, literacy rates, and so on. These systems are indifferent to precisely which infants live and die, or who learns to read and who does not. What matters is finding evidence of a trend consistent with universalizing understandings of development and progress, or an increase in a set of abstractly conceived goods: life, education, gender equality, health (Metzl and Kirkland 2010). Stasis or backsliding signals institutional failure and defeat. CSR executives are involved in a quest for metrics that render progress, stasis, and backsliding visible, and in the broader CSR industry a competitive marketplace exists for the production and sale of such metrics (Rajak 2011a:7; Shamir 2008).
Such abstract care is more easily managed from a distance. Studying the humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), anthropologist Peter Redfield (2012) formulated a useful distinction between the "light" volunteer expatriates of the global North, who maintain a passionate but general and abstract commitment to universal humanity, and the "heavy" national staff in the global South, who are subject to personalized and partisan claims related to "self-interest" and particular others (relatives, friends, those of the same ethnic group). For my purposes, it is important to consider how "lightness" and "heaviness" inhere in fluid circumstances and can shift across space and time: a single individual may be "heavier" (more subject to social expectations) in one setting and "lighter" in another. The executive at headquarters is "light" compared with the CSR manager at a mine site who must confront specific petitions and dilemmas. This reflects, in part, the distance of upper management from sites of operation. Jackall (1988:22) writes, "Because they are unfamiliar with-indeed deliberately distance themselves from-entangling details, corporate higher echelons tend to expect successful results without messy complications." Executives at corporate headquarters can see themselves as more progressive and enlightened than the managers and staff of mines in relation to various categories of subordinate actors with whom they do not actually interact, as, for example, when senior executives were perturbed by the "racism" of Newmont's Social Affairs staff in Peru.42
If bureaucracy itself "facilitates an abstract rather than a concrete view of problems," and "the abstractness of one's viewpoint increases as one ascends the hierarchy of an organization," the "austere, uncluttered perspective" of top executives results from their "social distance from the human consequences of [their] actions" (Jackall 1988:131). Yet it also reflects an ethical understanding among executives like Macdonald that their professional duty is to act "as receptor sites for standards evolving in wider environments. Indeed, they have something of an obligation to betray the interests in the local setting in preference for putatively universal principles" (Meyer 2010:13).
In a conversation with a new Social Development manager from Ghana who was visiting corporate headquarters, Macdonald laid out the new disciplinary terrain as she saw it:
First, I'll be driving stakeholder engagement. Decisions can't be made without consultation with local stakeholders. It's not just me saying that. It's in the corporate standards. Second, as much as possible, programs in social development must be about building capacity and changing expectations. This will enable the communities to sustain new economic expectations in the postclosure era. Anything that creates dependence and entails buying goodwill-I don't want to go near it. We want to be seen not as a pot of money but as a set of skills.
Macdonald asserted her authority ("I'll be driving stakeholder engagement"), aligned it with the interests of local stakeholders (without whose input decisions cannot be made), and then displaced her authority by insisting that the corporate standards were doing the talking. Her second point honed in on her understanding of social development, which has a meaning, appearance (capacity, expectations, and skills, not a pot of money), and temporal orientation (the postclosure era) that conform to a "sustainable" model and are articulated against a conventional patronage model. I explore the dynamic relation between the two models in greater detail in the next two chapters, which turn to the Sumbawan context. The sustainable model is easier for the "light" executive to articulate in Denver than it is for the "heavy" manager or Community Relations officer near a mine site to follow, even if the latter understands and values the rationale for the sustainable model. The interests of the corporation and its stakeholders look different depending on whether one is "light" and invested in producing universal, humanitarian benefits (e.g., improved human development indicators) or "heavy," more directly invested in social relations with, and subject to the claims of, those who stand to suffer or benefit from a mining project.
An American CSR manager for Newmont in Sumbawa told me he hated driving through a certain village. He always wanted to accelerate as he approached the home of the village head, who invariably recognized his car and tried to flag him down with some request. Having little choice but to listen and respond in such scenarios, the expatriate manager in Sumbawa is heavier than Macdonald in Denver, who argues that the company must not be enacted as a "pot of money." But two years after I finished my fieldwork in Denver, Anderson was given a new appointment in Ghana, and Macdonald followed a few years later. Moving from lightness to heaviness, neither followed the "natural" course of executive ascent in Denver. Newmont appointed new CSR executives at headquarters, but they reported lower down the "food chain," to an Environment executive under the new umbrella rubric of Environment and Social Responsibility, constituting a demotion of CSR as an independent discipline.
I am not sure what happened to the Warlpiri paintings I saw that first day in Newmont's headquarters. Newmont moved its headquarters offices, and the last time Macdonald visited in 2011 they were nowhere to be seen. The Integrated Management System that was part of Macdonald's legacy had been partly undone, too. The standards and policies remained in place, but the corporate-managed annual assessments of sites (examined in chapter 6) had been suspended and nothing was put in their place other than audits required to meet government standards. Some sites, such as Ghana, voluntarily continued the annual assessment process.43
Although Macdonald may have been particularly well suited to work at headquarters, she had had direct contact with "local stakeholders" before her time in Denver. Her remarks during a meeting with an Environment executive made it clear that the experience had stayed with her. In response to his characterization of the Australian mines inherited from Normandy as "challenged from an environmental perspective" (owing to their high sulfur dioxide emissions and the company's inability to track possible cyanide seepage from refilled mine pits), Macdonald recalled interacting with traditional owners (TOs): "It's really horrible taking TOs to a site like the refilled pits. The women will start crying and wailing for their country, going on for hours."
Ameliorative disciplines cannot prevent the destruction of land, the pollution, and the waste production that are inherent in all mining. At best, they can mitigate these effects and help ensure that those affected are compensated. At worst, they facilitate more mining and the destruction that goes with it by overcoming resistance and unlocking "high-value opportunities." In the end, there is little these disciplines can offer those who, like the wailing traditional owners, object in principle to what mining companies are doing. Like all CSR practitioners, Anderson and Macdonald were engaged in a project of reform, not revolution. They sought, for example, to enhance compliance with "best practices" for involuntary resettlement rather than to end the practice of involuntary resettlement itself. They worked to develop tools to help mining corporations better listen to and serve the interests of local communities rather than to help communities resist mining. They wanted to institute mechanisms to restrain police, military, and private security forces that guard mining operations and to instill human rights principles, rather than to do away with an industry that requires armed protection. They train their attention on some social responsibility issues and not others.44
As reformers, CSR executives fit into a much-criticized type: apologists for capitalism. In Žižek's words (2006), such apologists belong to the corps of "liberal communists" who keep global capitalism going, those who-we should have no illusions-stand as "the enemy of every true progressive struggle today," tinkering to fix all the "secondary malfunctions of the global system." Such typecasting allows us to articulate a critique, to pass judgment on CSR practitioners. But it also encourages us to caricature and dehumanize them, to treat them as the obedient foot soldiers of neoliberalism, simple structural effects rather than complex thinking subjects in their own right, and ones who are, moreover, often regarded in corporate headquarters as the enemy. Our efforts might therefore be productively channeled away from critiquing reform for its obviously reformist character, and toward thinking about its content and about how, in shifting contexts, this content is generated, structured, rolled out, and rolled back.