Stakeholder Engagement

  • Why Is This Initiative Happening?

The actors addressing the most pressing global issues for societies and the environment have been expanding in the SDG era to include the private sector in addition to the traditional government, non-profits, and civil society actors. That said, the way that all sectors address these issues will be hindered if those stakeholders most affected by these global issues are not sufficiently involved. 

In a world facing widening racial, gender, and economic inequalities, and the degradation of climate, natural resources and ecosystems, the chances for achieving the SDG global goals are dim unless the stakeholders who have the most at stake are given entree to a seat at the table. Those who experience these global problems most intensely accumulate invaluable insights and are best positioned to inform what gets measured and provide insights that inform management decisions about how to improve programmes, services, and products.

  • What is the High-Level View of this Initiative?   

This Global Research and Feedback initiative comprises a cross-sector consortium of 26 organizations spanning 13 countries, with a common aim of amplifying stakeholder voices and improving accountability in impact measurement and management.  Together, this initiative seeks a path to improve stakeholder involvement in the design, implementation, and evaluation of programmes, products and services.

The Initiative centers on for-profit participants in the social and solidarity economy, comprising social enterprises and their impact-focused investors, because stakeholder engagement practice is less well developed for them. It focuses primarily on stakeholder accountability practices in activities that intentionally seek to generate positive social and environmental impact alongside financial returns (earned revenue). The initiative will also be referencing more established practices among traditional participants in the social and solidarity economy. 

  • What is the Context of this Initiative?

OECD describes the social and solidarity economy as a set of associations, cooperatives, mutual organisations, and foundations with activities that are driven by values of solidarity, the primacy of people over capital, and democratic and participative governance. 

Today, rapid changes in the global economy are seeing mainstream business, emerging social enterprises and investors become ever more responsible and oriented towards inclusive and sustainable development. As a result, the line between the social and solidarity economy and the traditional mainstream economy has blurred. Recognizing this, the initiative focuses on the for-profit entrants into the social and solidarity world, particularly “social enterprises” and “impact investors”, for whom impact measurement and management generally, and stakeholder engagement specifically, are less well developed.

There are many policies and practices in effect for the traditional social solidarity economy pertaining to stakeholder engagement in the  design, implementation, and evaluation of programmes, products and services.  We will draw from and build upon these and test how well they work in the new private-sector oriented context.  

  • Who Are the Key Contributors to this Research and Feedback Initiative?

This initiative will operate as a Peer Learning Partnership (PLP). It is one of a half dozen consortia of the Global Action Initiative put forward by OECD’s Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) unit. 

The PLP’s membership comprises government, business, investment, consulting, civil society, philanthropic, stakeholder engagement solutions providers, and independent experts, in addition to networks and associations that are committed to advancing practices, norms and policies that support inclusion and sustainability in economic activities.   

The PLP is hosted by a network organization, Social Value US, which is a member of Social Value International (SVI) – a global network and standard setter for social impact accounting and social value which works across sectors. The executive committee of the PLP includes SVI, Social Value chapters in Belgium and Italy, Toniic, and the Slovenian Ministry of Economy and Technology.  

Numerous other organizations and associations have committed to conduct outreach to their respective networks throughout the PLP to create a large base for its research and feedback efforts. Still other organizations have committed to develop content about their approaches to stakeholder engagement, which will be vetted by the PLP.  Among these are:

 i) business sector – Salesforce and Monitor of Deloitte 

ii) impact investors – Toniic ( a global network of impact investors)

iii) consultancies – Genesis Analytics, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and Sambodhi 

iv) civil society organizations with close ties to the policy arena – several actors in Belgium, Social Impact Management Initiative of Japan, Grupo Ecologico Sierra Gorda in Mexico, and Link2007 in Italy 

v) solution providers – 60 Decibels and Keystone Accountability 

vi) philanthropy – The Rockefeller Foundation 

vii) national government – the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology in Slovenia 

viii) multilateral government –  UNDP 

ix) academics – HIVA-KU Leuven, Karim Harji, on the faculty of Oxford Impact Investing Programme, participating as an independent expert 

x) social value membership organizations – SVI and its chapters in Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States.

  • Why Will Putting Stakeholders at the Center make Social and Environmental Impact More Effective?

Decades of international development and social impact work have shown that without participatory design and evaluation methods that value stakeholder engagement, programme developers are doomed to create programmes and products that are not contextually appropriate or effective. Looking forward, the very effectiveness of the emerging impact-oriented enterprises hailing from the private sector hinges on how well stakeholders are engaged throughout the process, how accountable those enterprises remain to their stakeholders, and how information provided by stakeholders is incorporated into decision-making about how to maximize social and environmental impact.

The social and solidarity economy needs effective mechanisms to leverage people’s insights and voices in decision-making that affects them, and to hold organizations to account for the impact they have on people’s lives and on their environment. In order to affect positive social and environmental impact and mitigate or reduce negative impacts, such organizations need to be better rooted in appropriate norms and practices for stakeholder involvement. In this way, they can drive innovation to create more social value and, at the same time, enhance transparency and accountability to stakeholders.  

  • What Will Come Out of this Initiative?

The initiative will produce white papers focused on 1) identifying areas of capacity-building that is needed for social enterprises and impact investors and 2) policy recommendations in order to build more accountability to stakeholders into the IMM process for the for-profit actors in the Social and Solidarity Economy. The white papers will include concrete IMM-focused recommendations for 1) capacity-building for appropriate depth and frequency of stakeholder engagement and 2) public policies and legal frameworks intended to be introduced into the policy arena in the jurisdictions that are represented in this initiative. A short teaser video will be produced to promote interest in the white papers. 

The PLP will also participate in OECD-led convenings to share learnings across other PLP consortia. A final report to the OECD will be shared widely among its Global Action initiatives and incorporated into a forthcoming OECD report. 

  • How will the PLP work?
  1. Identify existing SE practices in IMM collected from PLP members and broader SSE actors. 
  2. Synthesize these practices into use-cases (i.e., exemplars) and present along a spectrum of low to high depth and low to high frequency of stakeholder engagement. 
  3. Gather feedback from PLP and its multiple networks about the applicability and interest in new governance structures and IMM practices that increase accountability to stakeholders (high depth and frequency of SE). 
  4. Based on feedback, analyze how private sector actors (businesses and investors) who adopt certain stakeholder engagement practices (IMM or governance structures) could be considered a part of the (widening) social and solidarity economy referencing the OECD’s definition of SSE.
  5. Produce a white paper recommending capacity building initiatives that can help grow the SSE by embedding stakeholder engagement practices that bring new levels of accountability to private sector actors.
  6. Produce a white paper on public policies and legal frameworks that can help grow the SSE by embedding stakeholder engagement practices that bring new levels of accountability to private sector actors.  
  • How Can Others Get Connected to this Global Research and Feedback Initiative?

Numerous individuals and organizations will have the opportunity to engage in this research and feedback project about putting stakeholders in the center.  These opportunities include:

  • participating in the stakeholder engagement survey
  • providing feedback on documents summarizing models for stakeholder engagement
  • contributing to the learning by asking others in your networks to provide feedback on such documents 
  • communicating about and disseminating white papers and the video produced by this initiative.