Royal Dutch Shell, recognizing the importance of engaging in constructive community stakeholder engagement (CSE) with a diverse set of global communities, approached CBI in early 2011 to develop a tailored curriculum and training approach that would enhance the engagement skills of its community relations staff in operations around the world.

Strategically, Shell has sought to lead in the social performance space, yet – like many oil and gas majors – has faced a deep challenge of harmonizing those skills across the diversity of its community relations teams and the contexts in which they work.  Equally important, Shell has sought to integrate community engagement principles and practices directly into its site-based planning and operations, working closely with operations managers, technical, and logistical staff.  

CBI’s partnership with Shell centers on translating Shell’s social performance optimization goals from company policy to frontline capacity, thereby improving the way it relates to communities impacted (positively or negatively) by company activities and seeking the social privilege to operate.


CBI delivers three-day training workshops to multinational Shell assets and operations through a narrative based case study -- providing community facing staff with a successful framework for strengthening stakeholder relations.

CBI worked in collaboration with Shell over a four-month period to create a community social performance framework for Shell staff and develop the course, Social Performance in the Community. At the heart of the course is the interweaving of Shell’s Social Performance goals and CBI’s Mutual Gains Approach to Community Engagement (MGA).  Social Performance requirements ensure that Shell provides benefits to communities and minimizes negative impacts on them in its operations, while CBI’s Mutual Gains Approach provides practical principles and tools to make engagement between Shell staff and communities as beneficial as possible for all stakeholders.

The three-day, highly interactive course integrates this framework with the key elements of Shell’s Social Performance requirements. Using an integrative role-play case, Shell’s community relations staff practice the primary steps and activities required to fulfill the requirements, as well as enhance skills for effective community engagement.

Threaded into the curriculum are four Mutual Gains crosscutting principles that can comprise a culture shift for any company seeking to improve the way it relates to communities impacted, positively or negatively, by its operations.

  • Focusing on core interests and needs – both company’s and community’s
  • Creating options that generate mutual gain – in ways that address priority interests and concerns
  • Strengthening relationships – through consistent information sharing, dialogue, and follow through actions that are consistent with commitments made
  • Involving stakeholders in the solution – inclusive of grievance management, problem-solving, and social investment

CBI trainers successfully connected with Shell staff of diverse backgrounds, knowledge bases, and skill sets by leveraging the depth and breadth of their experience to credibly relate with staff steeped in community relations, and to synthesize information for those less familiar with stakeholder engagement.

Using experience-based learning, assisted by multimedia visual aids, the CBI-Shell team helped staff to distill community stakeholder engagement fundamentals into a practical framework for social performance.


CBI helps Shell bolster the engagement capacity of its community relations staff while expanding Shell’s operational social performance goals to a broader audience.

To date, CBI trainers have successfully implemented the Social Performance in the Community Course in thirteen locations (Philippines, Ireland, Canada, Dubai, Jordan, Qatar, Nigeria, Ukraine, China, Australia, Malaysia, Nigeria, and the United States).

In addition, CBI produced an interactive e-learning version of the curriculum made available online in 2014 to reach a wider audience of Shell staff and managers, as well as build broader understanding of how their work can contribute to effective social performance. The course builds on the best of CBI’s thinking, using engaging, multimedia lessons to clarify key learning points.