Engagement encompasses a variety of activities from stakeholder mapping, analysis and outreach, to responding to community hopes and concerns and maximizing project benefits through sustainable development. Engagement:
- Identifies issues before they become problems
- Counters rumours
- Lowers demands and supports better long term planning
- Signals honesty, trust and respect
Broadly speaking, company – stakeholder consultation takes place in three different forms:
- Informal discussions; these interactions serve the important purpose of maintaining an on-going friendly relationship;
- Periodic corporate-sponsored open-ended discussions. These provide a place for exchange of ideas and soliciting perspectives and opinions that can inform the company’s actions. They are not intended to arrive at formal agreements
- Negotiations where a series of meetings is deliberately convened to reach an agreement on a particular issue
These forms are complimentary; one does not substitute for the others. Through some forms of engagement a company provides information to stakeholders, whereas others require the company adopt a listening role. Different stakeholders need different engagement strategies, in terms of both the frequency and the format of meetings.
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