At the heart of sustainability is the way your company interacts with its stakeholders. Perhaps that’s even one of the biggest differences with more traditional, less sustainable companies.
Engagement with stakeholders requires an open organisation. If you don’t have an open mindset, it’s pretty hard to listen to others, to understand what is important for them and why, and to take this into account.
Listening allows you to use their input to improve your business and drive innovation.
To be effective, stakeholder engagement has to take place in the beginning of the process and be a continuous process.
See it as an iterative process, whereby you take small steps and try to continuously improve and adapt. This also asks for a clear direction, otherwise you might end up driving around in circles.
Don’t forget internal DMUs
Special attention is needed for aligning external stakeholders and internal decision makers. The latter might even require more time and effort than external stakeholders. The internal change needed for ‘opening up’ is a critical step in the whole process. Successes early on in the process are absolutely necessary to convince internal stakeholders.