Your company may have an impact on the lives of many people and organizations. All of these people and organizations are your stakeholders - they have a stake in your company’s financial, environmental and social performance.
Look at the diagram below and think about how your company interacts with each group. Your relationship with each group varies considerably, and you need to adapt the way you engage with each of them to mitigate risks to your business. At the diagram below and think about how your company interacts with and affects each of them.
Systematically engaging with affected communities in the identification and management of the impacts that negatively affect them contributes to building trust, credibility and local support. Engaging with them also provides the opportunity to highlight the positive aspects of the company’s presence. This lowers the risk of anti-company sentiments that could lead to costly litigation or disruption of company operations.
Other stakeholders such as activists and NGOs may not be directly affected by your operations but may have an interest in what you do. Keeping these groups informed and maintaining an open communication channel may lower the risk of negative campaigns that could affect your company’s reputation.
MAPPING YOUR STAKEHOLDERS
The first step in building a relationship with your stakeholders is to identify them. To start, look back at your risk assessment and the areas of potential negative impacts and identify who would be directly or indirectly impacted.
Once you have identified your stakeholders, you should prioritize the different groups based on the nature and severity of the impacts, and the ability of these groups to influence your business. Engagement should be stronger and more frequent with those groups that are more severely affected, as well as with those that have a greater ability to influence your business.
Also, as you identify your stakeholders and the issues that may affect or interest them, you can tailor your communication material and methods to effectively engage with each of them.
|Use the Toolkit item Stakeholder Map and Impact Zoning Tool for Affected Communities to get started.|
DEVELOPING A STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT PLAN
After mapping your stakeholders, the next step is to develop a plan for how to engage with the groups that you have identified. Your stakeholder engagement plan can be simple. But it is important to be proactive and to address key environmental and social concerns.
At a minimum, even if your company does not have adverse impacts on communities or other stakeholders, you should always implement a procedure to receive communications from the public and accordingly adjust your management program (see chapter External Communication).
If it is determined that there are affected communities, you need to implement a Grievance Mechanism (see chapter Grievance Mechanism) and actively engage them in consultation, regularly disclosing clear and meaningful information on both your impacts and potential benefits, and providing communities with opportunities to express their concerns and suggestions.
In the case of potentially significant adverse impacts to individuals and communities, you should engage them in a process of Informed Consultation and Participation (ICP). Compared to a consultation process, an ICP should ensure a more in-depth exchange of information and a higher level of participation from affected stakeholders in decision-making, so that their proposed mitigation measures are incorporated into the company’s action plan.
Finally, you should periodically report to affected stakeholders on the actions your company is putting in place to address the issues identified through the engagement process (see chapter Ongoing Reporting to Affected Communities). Regular communication with the various stakeholder groups is an excellent way for you to understand how company operations affect them and to get early warnings of potential problems. In all your efforts to reach out to stakeholders, ensure that you do so early on – relationship-building takes time. Don’t wait until a crisis arises to act, as it will be more difficult without those relationships in place to manage the problem.
For effective consultation with affected communities :
|Use the Toolkit item Stakeholder Engagement Plan Worksheet to record how you will engage with the important stakeholder|
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