Designing Meaningful Engagement with Stakeholders

Gabriella Palma, Senior Consultant, Global Social Impact Business Unit Lead, Longevity Partners

The built environment plays a crucial role in the health, wellbeing and stability of communities, and, as a result, strategic leaders must take values and priorities of different stakeholder groups into account when making decisions.
Human-centred projects are dynamic and complex in nature, and poorly designed solutions can have unintended consequences for vulnerable stakeholders. Gathering stakeholder testimony is crucial to understanding the potential of these projects from all angles and designing solutions that directly address the most prevalent issues in a community.

A guide to meaningful stakeholder engagement

Below are the key steps that Longevity Partners takes in guiding our clients through meaningful stakeholder engagement used to inform robust and intentional ESG strategies.
Before directly engaging with stakeholder groups, project coordinators must:

  1. Determine the objectives of the stakeholder engagement. What information is needed to responsibly design and move forward with an initiative? What is the desired created value of the project?
  2. Identify key stakeholders. Who is going to be most impacted by the intervention? Which is the best method of communicating with them?
  3. Design an intentional engagement approach with focused questions that can be tracked and compared after the end of the project. What should be the frequency of engagement with the same stakeholder group? How is collected data going to be tracked and measured over time?
    Mapping out the engagement before it takes place sets the tone for the stakeholder conversations and results in collecting more substantial insights.

Three fundamental elements for stakeholder engagement

Our team spoke with Kelly Eskew, corporate attorney and Professor of Business Law & Ethics at the Kelley School of Business in Bloomington, Indiana. Her areas of expertise include business and poverty alleviation, sustainability law and policy, business and human rights, civil rights and business ethics. Throughout her diversified career, she has mastered how to effectively and responsibly collect insights from people of different backgrounds and geographies—from corporate leaders of large international companies to members of high-risk communities.

Professor Eskew stresses the importance of three fundamental elements of engaging in conversation with stakeholders:

  1. Identify and engage community leaders
    The more sensitive the problem being addressed, the more challenging it can be to interact with stakeholders. Who has the trust of the target community or stakeholder group? A community leader—company CEO, schoolteacher, grocery store manager, local government leaders, etc.—serves as an ambassador on behalf of the intervening organisation. Establishing an avenue of trust leads to more candid engagement, and ultimately, more accurate and reliable data.
  2. Listen with humility
    Entering a stakeholder discussion with prescribed solutions to assumed challenges risks missing out on important information that could lead to accurately defining the challenges facing the target community or stakeholder group.
  3. Understand the wider context of the project environment
    Has something happened in the past in the target community that has affected its trust in outsider intervention? Are there other initiatives that would be disrupted or displaced with a new initiative? Are there opportunities for collaborations with other stakeholder groups to enhance the overall impact of an initiative?

How can Longevity Partners help?

Longevity Partners leads a wide range of stakeholder engagements on behalf of our clients to inform the development of corporate and asset-level ESG strategy, as well as Social Value projects and assessments.
For inquiries about Longevity Partners’ services in ESG Strategy and Social Impact in the built environment, please reach out to Global Social Value Business Unit Lead, Gabriela Palma.

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