CSR Guidelines for the Financial Sector - page 32

PleaseDONOTmistake engagement withmarketing or PR. For engagement to be credible it must be open and
transparent. An organizationmust be clear with the stakeholders during engagement why it is engagingwith them
andwhat it hopes to achieve from such engagement. It must also be accepted that different stakeholder groups will
not have the same interests or opinions and all input should be taken into consideration.
Although, the goal is to be transparent and open, an organizationmay feel like there are issues it cannot engage on
regardless of how key theymay be such as proprietary information.
Material Issues
Some issues aremorematerial than others.What does that mean?
In theworld of accounting, information is considered important if it could influence the decisions taken and
therefore, any omission ormisstatement in such information is considered unethical and inappropriate.
For the purposes of stakeholder engagement, material information is somewhat similar. It is information that would
affect the decisions of management or stakeholders. If unknown ormisunderstoodwould limit them frommaking
sound judgments.
There aremany tools to help definematerial issues. One such tool that is easily accessible and available is the
five-part materiality test that is prepared by an organization calledAccountAbility. The tool through a set of questions
helps rank issues as being of high, medium or lowmateriality.
Materiality can also be ascertained by identifying issues that:
- Have a direct financial impact in the short term
- Affect organization’s policy statements that are of a strategic nature
-Other organizations considermaterial
- The organizations stakeholders have identified as important
- Have a social nature and considered social norms
Ways to Engage:Methods andChannels
Different levels of engagement may be required depending on the issue or stakeholder group. Therefore, before any
lengthy engagement process is begun, it is important to have a good understanding of the level of engagement
required. Levels of participation can be categorized as follows:
To provide the stakeholders with balanced and objective information
to assist them in understanding the issue, alternatives, opportunities
and/or solutions
To solicit input from stakeholders for decision-makers on analysis,
alternatives and/or decisions
Towork directly with stakeholders throughout the process to ensure
that stakeholder concerns and aspirations are consistently
understood and considered in decisionmaking processes
To partner with stakeholders in each aspect of the decision including
the development of alternatives and the identification of the
preferred solution
To place final decision-making in the hands of stakeholders
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