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Principles of engagement

Pay attention to the following 10 principles when engaging with stakeholders:

  1. engage on issues that matter. Focus on clear objectives and material business needs that require action. Show how engagement will add value to the business;
  2. be ready to act: Use engagement to drive decisions and not as a public relations exercise. Stakeholders have limited time and prefer to engage with companies that are serious about change;
  3. identify the right stakeholders. Ensure the process is inclusive and diverse. Consider stakeholders’ expertise, level of influence, willingness to engage and impact on the company;
  4. engage empowered representatives: Engage representatives who are empowered to take decisions on behalf of their constituents and have the mandate to ‘step out of the comfort zone’;
  5. determine shared value: Ensure that each stakeholder benefits directly from the engagement and understands how the others benefit;
  6. agree rules of engagement: Establish the scope, objectives, roles, rules and risks of engagement at the beginning. Agree on the processes for decision-making, conflict resolution and evaluation;
  7. manage expectations: Make certain that all parties have realistic ambitions and agree on clear outcomes of the engagement. Stakeholders’ perspectives are used to informed decision-making, but the responsibility for the decision rests with the company;
  8. provide adequate resources: Devote adequate resources (time, money and people) to ensure success. Where appropriate, reimburse stakeholders for their time and expenses, or allow them to nominate a charity to receive an equivalent amount as a donation;
  9. choose the right format: Choose the appropriate format (e.g. private meetings, round table discussions, stakeholder panels, etc) to achieve the objective of the engagement;
  10. level the playing field. Be sensitive to perceived or actual power differences and facilitate the process to allow fair participation.
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