CBSR Blog: Stakeholder Engagement Panels: A Collaborative Approach to Improve CSR Performance

Oct 6, 2011 6:30 AM ET

By: Marie Jurcevic

Stakeholder engagement is not a new concept but increasingly companies have come to recognize its value. Studies have shown that stakeholder oriented companies outperform their competitors (Kotter and Heskett, 1992; CICA 2006; Svendson, 2002).  As companies face growing complexities of managing various social and environmental challenges, stakeholder engagement provides an opportunity for companies to align their business practices with societal expectations.  

Benefits of engaging with stakeholders include:

  •     Establishing trust and credibility; acquiring a “social license to operate”;

  •     Avoiding and/or resolving conflicts; reducing the possibility of negative actions (protests, shareholder activism, etc.); and

  •     Gaining community support and fostering continuous improvement (i.e. it provides another avenue for companies to learn and innovate).

Stakeholder Engagement Panels

There are various methods that can be used to engage with stakeholders; determining the goals and objectives for the engagement will help your organization inform the method of engagement and most appropriate approach.  If your objective is to engage stakeholders in dialogue and collective learning in a way that will inform corporate decision making then it is advisable for your organization to establish a stakeholder engagement panel.  A stakeholder engagement panel is a group of stakeholders (such as community members, NGOs, academia, subject matter experts etc.) who have been brought together at the invitation of a company to provide advice and/or assurance on aspects of its performance.

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