As the global expectation for ‘sustainable’ products, services and corporate action continues to grow, many leading organizations are embracing business sustainability as a means to gain a long-term competitive advantage. These organizations are adopting a more comprehensive definition of business sustainability that runs consistently through core business processes and aligns the interests of key stakeholders with their business offerings. However, when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility, are companies really engaging their key business stakeholders?
Sustainable organizations understand the value in managing their key business relationships and view sustainability as a "must have" strategy for long term business viability and success. A defining characteristic of these organizations is a recognition and response to “pressures from stakeholders”. However, at what level are stakeholders involved in the ‘decision-making’ process of a business?
Over the years, two models of stakeholder engagement have evolved. In an article by the Corporate Responsibility Officer, these models are examined in the differentiation between ‘consent’ and ‘consult’.
• Consult Model – Involves a transparent exchange of information among project sponsors, regulators, affected communities, and other key stakeholders.
• Consent Model - Involves sharing or transferring decision-making authority to those key stakeholders who will be directly affected.
The challenge in determining the right engagement model is determining if decision-making can be shared with affected stakeholders. In our sustainability consulting practice, we work with clients to build a focused business sustainability plan which engages key stakeholders early in the development and implementation of business sustainability strategies that add specific value and promote both company and community success.