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Guide your company’s sustainability journey

3

KEY CHALLENGES

3.1

MATERIALITY

ANALYSIS

3.2

External Reporting

3.4

Sustainability Training

3.5

Human rights

3.6

Social Innovation

Mapping Stakeholder Expectations

3.3

WHAT IS IT?

Know your sustainability context

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

IDEAL SCENARIO

3.3

MAPPING STAKEHOLDER EXPECTATIONS

RESOURCES FOR
THE JOURNEY

GOOD PRACTICES

WHAT IS IT?

 

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.

 

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

 

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.

IDEAL SCENARIO

 

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.

MIA RESULTS

 

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.

TRENDS

 

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.

  • Many companies use surveys to be able to get in touch with a large number of relevant stakeholders, yielding well-structured feedback relatively fast.
  • Others believe in face-to-face qualitative information gathering through interviews (usually executed by third party agencies) or stakeholder group dialogues (many CSR Europe members are turning to this tool, e.g. Hitachi).
  • Others may use a panel of external and internal stakeholders over a longer time span to check company strategies / solutions through a triple-bottom-line or sustainability lens (see the Danone KOL and Solvay examples below).

 

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.

RESOURCES FOR THE JOURNEY

 

  • If you have not started systematic stakeholder relationship management yet, it is worth conducting a baseline study on how different departments are in contact with their stakeholders and what are they discussing as it can bring interesting stories and interactions to the surface. Starting sustainability/integrated reporting is a good trigger for this exercise.
  • Once a baseline on stakeholder engagement is established, look into what forms of engagement could benefit your purpose and how to develop upper-management attention on integrating stakeholder expectations into strategy development. Starting with one project, in which collecting stakeholder expectations may have immediate benefits could be a good approach. New site development; a new project development; decisions on community involvement projects and what impact to achieve and measure; development of a new policy or product, especially with a strong focus on sustainability may be good opportunities to involve the stakeholder view and move to a more systematic, strategic approach. The tools above are good resources for further information.
  • If your company is already practicing proactive stakeholder engagement make sure to build up channels and cross-functional checkpoints where not only risks, but opportunities can also be assessed and acted upon. A good case in point is the revitalisation of the Lipton brand and how increased stakeholder engagement and a sustainable supply chain strategy brought a turnaround in the economic, social and environmental benefits of the Unilever-owned brand.