Businesses must talk to stakeholders, says Round Table

What businesses can do to encourage stakeholder input to their decision making processes is the focus of the latest report from the UK Round Table on Sustainable Development. The report explores how this approach can work to create a more open climate, helping them to contribute to sustainable development.

“The Round Table operates on the basis of seeking consensus between people with different viewpoints on issues of sustainable development,” said Round Table chairman, Sir Richard Southwood at the launch.

“The Round Table believes that a similar approach could usefully be applied in many areas of business life. Also the agenda should be broadened from issues of environmental protection to cover all aspects of sustainable development: environmental, economic and social.”

David Lea, assistant general secretary of the TUC, who chaired the subgroup which prepared the report, added: “Stakeholder dialogue is a continuing process which will promote awareness of social and environmental issues which can lead to innovative and cost-effective solutions.

“Clarifying problems and working together to reach solutions will help create mutual trust and will also limit the effect of adverse media coverage. A stakeholder approach means exploring opportunities as well as problems, seeking solutions and reducing the potential for conflict.”

The Round Table makes a number of recommendations:

· all sectors should consider the stakeholder approach to improve the decision making process and to reach understanding on issues of common interest;

· dialogue should be regular and ongoing, reviewing past activity and discussing the way forward;

· stakeholders should come from a wide field and different dialogue formats should be developed for different circumstances;

· large enterprises should report publicly on their environmental performance following a review with stakeholders;

· Government departments should promote stakeholder dialogue.

The Report contains good practice examples of stakeholder dialogue. A leaflet summarising the message will be produced for wider distribution.

The Round Table Secretariat can be contacted on tel: 0171 890 4962 fax: 0171 890 4959 or e-mail [email protected]

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