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Need a quality check of your CSR processes? Try a stakeholder dialogue

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Does your organisation need to double check new guidelines or materiality with external stakeholders? Or have a better grasp of stakeholder interest? A stakeholder dialogue can provide fresh insights from external experts and stakeholders.

"A Stakeholder Dialogue (SD) will prove useful to better understand their interest and develop a more effective CSR strategy or project,"explains Paula Byrne, Director Membership and Business Development at CSR Europe"The benefits lie in getting high-quality feedback from external experts. It is like a quality check of your CSR processes, whereby you get a clear vision of potential gaps in your CSR strategy."

CSR Europe organised a Stakeholder Dialogue for Hitachi recently.  Hans Daems, Group Public Affairs Officer explains: "For Hitachi, the aim was to collect feedback on our sustainability strategy. More specifically on some choices we made in terms of the SDGs. Through CSR Europe, we accessed a wide variety of experts, sectors and networks, which we do not have within our normal working activities."\

THE POWER OF THE NETWORK

Orange has been organising SDs for quite a long time. However, these dialogues are the more one-to-one type of meetings. Yves Nissim, VP, Head of Transformation & operation in CSR at Orange, participated as an external stakeholder to the Hitachi SD. "The unique aspect of SDs set up by CSR Europe is the wide variety of participants. They brought around the table quite a big set of actors, including corporate members, civil society and observers. In the room, we also had experts from the European Commission." For Yves, another aspect was important: "The setting was good, the number of people was just right. We had a lot of exchanges. And above all, the conversation was completely open."

Although strictly under Chatham House rules, through the open environment experienced during these SDs, a much more accurate and honest feedback is given by external stakeholders.

Loic Van Cutsem is director Impact Transfer at Ashoka. He was also part of the Hitachi SD as an external stakeholder: "As an NGO my role is to bring a different, but complimentary social innovation grounded perspective."

How did Loic prepare himself? "I read well in advance all the information provided by Hitachi,  while also performing some additional searches. I had one or two discussions with colleagues on the topic and potential ideas and insights that we could bring to the discussion. A very interesting and enriching experience altogether."