Some Tips On Stakeholder Inclusion
Last November I had the honor (and the pleasure) to participate at the very first GRI-certified training on stakeholder inclusion. It was conducted by Niels Ferdinand, director of BSD Consulting Spain, and it took place at the Madrid Chamber of Commerce.
As I wrote in my previous post, stakeholder mapping (and prioritisation) are very important steps on a company’s road towards sustainability. It gives a lot of insight, as well as orientation about which should be the points where a company needs to focus.
What is stakeholder inclusion? It’s the process by which you start a constructive dialogue with the groups affected by the impacts of your company. This process will lead to solutions concerning matters that are relevant for your company and your stakeholders, thus guaranteeing the sustainability of the enterprise in the future.
There are a couple of tips that you should follow if you want to have a fruitful dialogue with your stakeholders. The most important ones are:
- You should be very clear about the goals of the proccess. Also, you should be very clear about what will NOT be under any circumstance a matter of discussion. This has to be properly communicated to the stakeholders prior to starting the process. This is to avoid the rising of false (and potentially dangerous expectations) from the stakeholders.
- The way of dialogue will vary from stakeholder to stakeholder. Your company should decide on the best way for each stakeholder. Dialogue with customers will probably take place through social media, whereas inclusion of NGOs can happen at discussion rounds or joint projects (also depending on how deep the involvement desired from the stakeholders is).
- Do not forget to communicate always with your stakeholders, at the start, during and (most important) at the end of the process. It’s crucial that your stakeholders are informed at every stage, espcially at the end. Just imagine how frustrated your customers, your employees or local NGOs could be if they are not updated about the outcome of a process they have dedicated effort and resources to.
Stakeholder inclusion is a very valuable tool, but only if companies go along with the process till the very end: from first consults to communicating final results, otherwise, it’s just wasted time and resources. Clearness, honesty and communication are a must.
If you are interested in staleholder inclusion you might want to check the new AA1000SES standard on stakeholder inclusion that “provides a principles-based, open-source framework for quality stakeholder engagement and supports the AA1000APS Principle of Inclusivity. It can be used as a “stand-alone” standard, or as a mechanism to achieve the stakeholder requirements of other standards, including GRI G3 and ISO 26000″.