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S1: Focus Engagement Activity

Companies will systematically identify a diverse group of stakeholders and regularly engage with them on sustainability risks and opportunities, including materiality analysis.
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The Ceres Engagement Model

For more than 20 years Ceres has been bringing the investor, business and NGO communities together in constructive dialogue to advance improved corporate sustainability performance. Drawing primarily upon the depth and expertise of the Ceres coalition, the Ceres stakeholder engagement model features diverse teams of credible, external stakeholders that provide ongoing input to a company on policy, strategy, performance and disclosure.  Read more...

Check out Roadmap in Action for examples of how companies are implementing the Ceres Roadmap.

Stakeholder dialogue can be used to identify material issues, prioritize efforts, and recognize emerging risks that could become increasingly important to the business over the long term. To get the most out of stakeholder engagement and to ensure no constituencies have been overlooked, companies should use stakeholder mapping to identify both internal and external stakeholder groups as well as to assess how each group is being engaged on key sustainability issues by various business lines and geographies.


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In The Road to 2020: Corporate Progress on The Ceres Roadmap For Sustainability, we evaluated 600 of the largest U.S. companies on their progress towards meeting the expectations laid forth in The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability.  Using data compiled and analyzed by Sustainalytics, for this expectation companies were evaluated for public disclosure of stakeholder mapping, engagement activity, feedback gathered and the company’s response to stakeholder guidance, as well as company efforts to include stakeholders in the determination of strategic priorities.

Tier description - 3Of the 600 companies evaluated, nearly 30 percent (171 companies) are providing some level of disclosure on efforts to engage in dialogue with external stakeholders.

>Through stakeholder mapping, companies can systematically identify key stakeholders, determine material issues of interest for those groups and ascertain specific stakeholders that can help with the prioritization of key areas requiring action. The most effective multi-stakeholder engagement strategies will solicit a diversity of perspectives including those of investors, local communities, indigenous groups, customers, employees, contractors and suppliers and civil society (unions, NGOs, etc.).

Comerica’s Sustainability Report clearly identifies key stakeholders and its efforts to engage each group. It also provides a stakeholder overlay to a materiality matrix that maps areas of exposure onto a grid, identifying level of impact for the company and importance to stakeholders. Baxter International and Kimberly Clark also provide detailed mappings of their stakeholders, including an explanation of material issues and examples of engagement unique to each group.

Companies that disclose their response to stakeholder input greatly increase the credibility of the stakeholder engagement process. Citigroup and Best Buy include specific details of stakeholder input in their sustainability reports and provide an explanation of how the company is addressing this feedback in their disclosure, strategies and programs. Companies can add further candor to their sustainability reporting by providing unedited stakeholder perspectives. These perspectives, found in the sustainability reports of Gap, GE and others, address material issues and provide a diverse array of opinions. The inclusion of candid stakeholder perspectives demonstrates transparency and provides the basis for ongoing engagement on key issues.

Of the companies assessed, more than 70 percent (429 companies) provide no disclosure on stakeholder engagement based on the criteria identified above. With the significant insights that can be gained through stakeholder dialogue, more companies should be leveraging such opportunities.

Interactive Data

Click on a performance tier below to view more information about how companies are performing.

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[23] Companies in Mediocre in 2012