Anyone familiar with the world of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) will be aware of the ever increasing amounts of jargon used in this once niche area. Perhaps stakeholder engagement is one such term. The name is commonly used by companies, governments and organisations, whilst the true meaning remians unclear to most of the general public – many of which are stakeholders!
In laymans terms, stakeholder engagement means listening to, responding to and acting on the wishes, views and concerns of people who are effected by how you run your business. Pretty simple, when explained like that and you might think a top priority of a company’s approach to business. However, just how would you go about achieving good levels of interaction with your consumers, the communities in which you operate and your shareholders, if you are a multinational company with operations all over the world?
British American Tobacco provides us with an excellent example of how to tackle this challenge succescfully. They are the world’s second largest tobacco group and have discovered the intrinsic benefits of listening and acting on the views of their key stakeholders. The feature article of this magazine issue, contributed by Verity Lawson, explains how they have developed and implemented a well defined process of stakeholder engagment over the last eight years.
British American Tobacco realised early on in their CSR journey that in order to create a CSR programme that added value to business and met external expectations, they needed to create a constructive means of communication with stakeholders. With brands selling in more than 180 markets, British American Tobacco has developed such a process of dialogue not only in the UK, but on a global scale, which allows their companies to respond locally and internationally.
However successful, British American Tobacco, like any other company striving to act responsibly, have met certain challenges along the way. Find out how they have overcome them.
Our second article takes us through the well developed approach by Camelot, operators of the UK National Lottery. They have placed stakeholder engagement right at the heart of their business approach, which enables them to operate in a more responsible way. They have identified their stakeholders and have developed a unique advisory panel made up of independent specialists with professional expertise in areas of stakeholder concern. This group challenges and advises on the company’s approach from an external view, in order to help it continually improve.
Listening to and involving their stakeholders has not only allowed Camelot to buld trust and safeguard its reputation but in addition, it has allowed it to innovate. By commissioning academics at Nottingham Trent University, Camelot has been involved in developing a tool which can assess the potential risk of new games which is an integral part of Camelot’s aim of encouraging many people to play relatively little and their wider strategy of responsible gaming. Read the full article here.
For companies that are starting out with their approach to responsible business, Poppy Moltby, an employee of Business in the Community and author of the next article, identifies the three main categories of the uses and purposes of Stakeholder Engagement. Read the full article to find out what steps BITC recommends its companies take towards a productive dialogue with stakeholders.
And of course, for a lighter read, catch up with David’s latest blog contribution.
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