Crafting Your Sustainability Story—Know Your Stakeholders

Crafting Your Sustainability Story—Know Your Stakeholders

Your second step in developing your sustainability story.

Last week we talked about the first step of developing a sustainability story: identifying your company’s issues of concern. Today we’ll cover the people who get to decide what those issues are and what you need to focus on most—namely your stakeholders.

For the purpose of sustainability planning, stakeholders are a broad group of individuals and organizations that care about your company’s activities, whether or not they support your goals. These might include your shareholders, your employees, the socially responsible investing community, activists, local communities surrounding your facilities, your vendors and suppliers—in short, anyone with a vested stake in your company.

It’s worth your while to know your stakeholders at least as well as you know your customers. Some of them will be both, but even stakeholders who don’t buy from you need to be factored into your sustainability plan. You need to know what’s important to them, especially the aspects of your business that affect their environmental, economic and social environment.

If you don’t already know your stakeholders, identify them by asking questions like:

  • Who benefits from the activity or goals of our company?
  • Who might be harmed by our activities and goals, or view us as a competitor?
  • What positive or negative impacts are we likely to cause to the environment, economy, or social institutions of the places we do business?
  • Where does our operating capital come from?
  • Is our company attractive to socially responsible investors?

You probably already know who many of your stakeholders are, but it’s worthwhile to do this exercise to make sure you’ve covered all your bases. Identifying your stakeholders, understanding what they want, and learning how they perceive your company will give you the keys to unlock your best sustainability story. We’ll talk more about how to make this happen next week.

For an overview of the entire process of crafting your sustainability story, download our parathink briefing: Beyond Green: The Expanding Role of Sustainability. Click here to get your free copy.

Want to review your own sustainability strategy—or anything else that’s on your mind? Set up a complimentary 30-minute strategy session with us by clicking here.

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