Stakeholder engagement : What is it?

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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:

  1. Informal discussions; these interactions serve the important purpose of maintaining an on-going friendly relationship;
  2. 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
  3. 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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