In today’s complex business environment, it is essential that we understand and manage our stakeholders’ expectations. Stakeholder engagement provides vital management information that helps us to maintain our industry leadership position. It is also an important and necessary part of the sustainability function, enabling us to test the materiality of issues, report appropriately and conform to leading sustainability codes and standards.
During 2009 we developed a high-level stakeholder relations strategy to formalise the stakeholder relations function in the business and to set out key priorities. The strategy identified key stakeholders via an internal workshop process and grouped these according to their relationship with the business. A team rated each stakeholder in terms of importance and influence, enabling a further and more meaningful categorisation of our stakeholders.
Through an interactive process, we also identified and described issues or stakeholder concerns prevalent in the stakeholder landscape. The inherent problem or opportunity associated with each issue, as it pertains to the business and stakeholders, was discussed and recorded. These issues were rated in terms of their relative importance for each stakeholder group, yielding an importance ranking for all the salient issues in the stakeholder landscape.
- Economic growth / unemployment in South Africa
- Skills development
- Nation-building opportunity
- Government capacity-building
- Alignment of agendas between Sanlam Group and its stakeholders
- Relevance to new (emerging) markets
- Ability to focus on and resource stakeholder management
- List of brand connectivity with end-user
- Exclusion from new power relationships
- Risk management / increasing systemic risk
- Too inwardly focused
- Intermediated business model results in a lack of control over distribution
The strategy formulation process culminated in a set of goals for 2010 and strategic priorities, accompanied by performance metrics and measures.
Our aspirations for 2010:
In 2010 we aim to embed this strategic process by acting on the goals and priorities identified. We recognise that the strategy is only a starting point and that substantial work will be required to ensure stakeholder engagement becomes entrenched and recognised as a valuable business function. Importantly, in the year ahead we need to integrate the stakeholder engagement process with the sustainability management function. In particular, we need to use the engagement process to check issues of material importance and to ensure the business is responding appropriately to stakeholder interests.