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No matter the reporting framework – Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Corporate Social Responsibility, Integrated Reporting – one thing remains the same. Stakeholder analysis and engagement is key to a successful report. Without it, how will your company know it’s reporting the information your stakeholders need?
Take for example the GRI framework. Stakeholder inclusiveness is one of the principles for defining report content. The framework directs the reporting organization to identify its stakeholders and explain in the report how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.
Start with Stakeholder Mapping
It’s an information age. Companies are faced with demands for transparent information from their customers, investors, employees, regulatory agencies, etc. It’s quickly becoming a necessary part of the supply chain, where you must prove you can meet a company’s sustainability or corporate responsibility standards in order to qualify to be a supplier.
That’s why it’s important that an organization take the time to identify all its potential stakeholders through a stakeholder mapping exercise. Discuss and inventory the groups and individuals that are impacted by your organization or that could have an impact on your business – including supporters, neutral and opposed.
The result of stakeholder mapping is a visual image that “maps” your stakeholder groups’ power, support, influence and needs. It can be an extremely helpful tool as your organization determines where to invest your time and effort.
Ask Stakeholders What They Want to Know
The next step is to perform a stakeholder analysis to identify what your stakeholders’ needs and expectations are of your company. This can be done through industry involvement, surveys, focus groups and face-to-face meetings.
Determining what your stakeholders want to know should inform your report content. Using a Materiality Matrix, plot what is most important to you to ensure responsible operation of your business on one axis and your stakeholders’ needs on the other. View a good example of a Materiality Matrix in AGCO’s sustainability report. Those topics of most importance to both should be included in your report.
Moreover, knowing your stakeholders’ needs and expectations should inform your overall engagement with those organizations and individuals in order to build a positive reputation. Learn more about how stakeholder analysis and stakeholder mapping can inform your company’s engagement strategy by downloading our new white paper, “Authentic Stakeholder Engagement: Essential to Strengthening Reputation and Managing Risk.”