C10.4.3 Stakeholder Engagement


Stakeholder engagement is vital to risk management and the protection of corporate reputation. In addition to that, stakeholder engagement can give you access to other areas of expertise that you can build into your operations and perhaps gain a competitive advantage.

Externally effective stakeholder engagement may assist you in obtaining a licence to operate, open up new markets and commercial opportunities. It may help you identify future risks and opportunities and respond accordingly. You may be able to deal with potential problems before they arise.

Internally, stakeholder engagement may help protect you against disruptive action (such as strikes); provide opportunities for costs savings and increase innovation. Another benefit is that you may be able to challenge traditional views held in your own organisation (it is true that many organisations only initially became interested in certification to ISO 14001 because they had a stakeholder further down the supply chain who insisted upon it).

There are various methods you may employ to engage stakeholders. The most effective method is dependent upon the types of stakeholder and the intended aim. For example, to inform a board of director about environmental performance, the aim is to state facts and a report may be a suitable vehicle for this.

However, if you are consulting the public about a proposed development the aim is to alleviate fears and encourage them to support the proposal. In this situation you may find that a combination of measures is more effective, including focus groups, questionnaires, meetings and forums. Written information is more likely to be in the form of leaflets and brochures.

To identify the most appropriate method of communication with your stakeholders, you must first establish what their information needs are.