Minding your stakeholders’ business — the key to sustainability
A strategic approach to stakeholder engagement
Internal and external stakeholders can have a profound effect on a company’s operations if they believe that the organization is in any way compromising its environmental, social or corporate responsibilities. Stakeholders’ negative perceptions of business practices can lead to boycotts, demonstrations and work blockages, as well as pressure on political leaders to stop, delay or change a project.
Companies must therefore engage their stakeholders up front and involve them in their decision-making process. In order to do that, companies have to decide which stakeholders to engage with, in what priority, on which topics and how. This requires designing and implementing a proper risk management approach to address these issues, defining responsibilities, planning and implementing methods and tools, providing proper training and setting up internal controls.
Minding your stakeholders’ business — the key to sustainability outlines how companies should go about this process using a four step approach:
• Plan and analyze: define the business case for change with all stakeholders
• Design: develop a shared vision of a company’s desired state with the input of all stakeholders
• Build and implement: integrate communications and engagement into the business process using innovative collaboration tools and techniques
• Monitor and report: provide ongoing support and adjustments to the stakeholder engagement processes, and track and measure results
Sustainable development and corporate responsibility concerns have become high-level political and social issues, and stakeholders are demanding that organizations act in a responsible manner. Their voices must be heard and their concerns must be addressed in a timely manner. Therefore stakeholder engagement must be an integral part of any organization’s business process.