Why is this important?
How your company is seen and perceived by stakeholders can have a major influence on its business success. With their respective areas of expertise, stakeholders can help your company develop sustainability goals and solutions to sustainability problems. For example, suppliers can support the development of more sustainable products (see criterion 10). Stakeholders can also help you understand how you are perceived externally and react to market and societal developments in good time. A suitably appreciative attitude towards these groups will help foster such solution-oriented relations . Conversely, if little attention is paid to stakeholder management, stakeholders can also hinder a company in its activities and ongoing development; for example, employees might work to rule, stakeholders might criticise your company or your products and services, or complainants might take precipitous legal action rather than engaging in solution-oriented dialogue.
What do the terms mean?
Stakeholders are individuals or groups associated with the company who either have a bearing on its business activities or are influenced by its business activities, e.g. business partners, employees, clients and suppliers as well as municipalities, parties, associations, government bodies, non-governmental organisations, etc. (see criterion 2). A distinction is made between internal stakeholders, i.e. groups of people within the company (e.g. employees, executives, union representatives) and external stakeholders, in other words interest groups outside the company (e.g. local residents, associations, media, competitors).
The sustainability process is the development and implementation of your company’s sustainability strategy.
What needs to be borne in mind?
The focus here is on dialogue and cooperation. It is obviously important that you provide your company’s stakeholders with information about your contribution to sustainable development. Additionally, this criterion enquires about what form you give regular dialogue and how you use it to incorporate your stakeholders’ points of view and constructive criticisms into your corporate processes. Examples of stakeholder engagement include internal newsletters, talks with the employees (see criterion 14), regular customer meetings, regular cooperation with media representatives and annual stakeholder days. Also state who from within the company participates in the dialogue formats and how you incorporate the findings into your company’s sustainability management.