Value creation, in the short or long term, starts with making a difference for others. You can do this by focussing your policy and activities on the principles of people, planet, profit and purpose of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The best way to give substance to value creation is to give substance to these four areas in a balanced way, using input from all stakeholders of the organisation. The usefulness of the stakeholder dialogue is to give shape to this. The dialogue provides insight into the bigger picture and offers new insights, frameworks and answers to challenging questions or problems.
So what are stakeholders?
Stakeholders are people or organisations that are influenced by or can exert influence on the achievement of the objectives of a particular organisation. This allows stakeholders to decide on the existence of an organization. Without their support, an organisation ceases to exist. Stakeholders can be divided into two groups; primary and secondary with the first group being the most important. The stakeholders can vary per theme. Examples of stakeholders include staff members, customers, suppliers, shareholders, inhabitants and civil society organisations.
A stakeholder dialogue is a dialogue about a specific theme with stakeholders. This can be any question or problem that an organisation wants to work on and for which broad input is important. The usefulness of a stakeholder dialogue can therefore differ per organisation. These dialogues consist of specific rules and principles, with the most important ones being:
- Listening with attention and respect; everyone is equally important,
- Do not judge what you hear and look beyond your own opinion,
- Opinions are juxtaposed; there is no question of convincing the other.
To ensure that this process runs smoothly, it’s wise to appoint an independent dialogue leader. They can ensure that there is an equal atmosphere and that the purpose of the dialogue is achieved.
Why should you hold stakeholder dialogues?
A stakeholder dialogue has many advantages: mutual cooperation, knowledge exchange and reflection. The safe setting makes it easier for participants to make their wishes and expectations known. During a dialogue, the emphasis is not on what an organisation does, but how it is done. By focussing the conversation on connecting with each other, this dialogue creates new insights, frameworks and answers around the theme of the conversation. The dialogue creates support from all parties and a better picture of the complex reality. With an independent dialogue leader, the client can also participate in the dialogue as an equal party.