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Mapping Stakeholder Expectations
WHAT IS IT?
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
The stakeholder view of corporate management suggests that the boundaries of a company’s impact will not stop at the door of the offices or factories, etc. A company affects and is affected by numerous different actors called stakeholders. Since the company has an impact on these stakeholders regardless of whether it realises it or not, it is better to shape this relationship in a systematic manner to yield positive impact.
Integrating values and interests of stakeholders into successful business operations is one of the biggest challenge currently facing companies. The expectation of stakeholder groups has the power to impact on operations and reputation and ultimately, the triple bottom line performance of the company.
Therefore, stakeholder expectation mapping is a fundamental element of strategic and integrated sustainability management. It is based on the view that a company is interacting with its environment and that one of the main goals of the company is to ensure that this interaction yields positive impact for all parties of the equation, i.e. stakeholders.
From a more managerial perspective stakeholders have significant impact on the intangible value of a company. Mapping out and managing the risks and opportunities arising in the interaction with stakeholders should therefore be a strategic focus of senior management in order to define the long-term sustainable growth trajectory of the organisation.
For the reasons stated above we set a regular, systematic approach informing corporate strategy on both group and affiliate level as the highest level of stakeholder expectations mapping.
Average result of mapping stakeholder expectations fall between a proactive, but ad-hoc approach, (in which companies do reach out to stakeholders to discuss issues of interest for both, but it is not certain how they can influence internal strategy with information drawn from these procedures) or a regular approach mapping current and emerging sustainability risks and feeding this information into the appropriate functions.
WHO ARE THE IMPORTANT STAKEHOLDERS?
There are definitely stakeholders who are more important than others, which is why we are advocating a systematic approach in managing relationships with them. From the perspective of importance we can differentiate primary and secondary stakeholders, but be aware that the list will change depending on the level of the discussion (group/regional/country/affiliate) and other aspects that may matter to the company or relate to the issue at hand.
The good practices below all provide information on how to select stakeholders. While organisations such as Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) also emphasise stakeholder identification in a tool.
CSR Europe is also providing stakeholder mapping as a tailored service. Click here for more information.
HOW TO ENGAGE STAKEHOLDERS IN A SYSTEMATIC WAY?
There are many solutions for systematic storage and analysis of stakeholder expectations.
Most probably no one good solution exists, rather a mix of all these approaches applied to specific levels, purposes and situations would be the most beneficial approach.
Some arguments for systematic stakeholder expectations mapping are:
Some stakeholder expectations mapping tools are:
This guide gives a good concise process overview with practical questions and “dos and don’ts”.
A leading stakeholder engagement tool, the AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard provides a principles-based, open-source framework for quality stakeholder engagement and supports the standard.
The guide from this Boston-based organisation provides elaborate case studies and a sample
of what stakeholder interactions can come into play.
As a complement to the first AA1000 standard, Accountability and the UNEP published this manual with the vision to align “corporate strategy with sustainable development”. Even though it was published in 2005, the approach and models are very relevant in providing practical advice and template to especially those starting to setup a systematic process.
Unipol – Regional Councils
Danone – Nature Stakeholders Board
Unilever – Revitalization of the Lipton brand