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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Corinna Kester

Evaluating stakeholder engagement in corporate social responsibility programs

Corinna Kester

Evaluating stakeholder engagement in corporate social responsibility programs

Stakeholder engagement has become integrated into the corporate social responsibility programmes of many large businesses, and several standards have been developed to assure the quality of this engagement. However, no detailed guidance yet exists for stakeholder engagement reporting, which is a key part of the engagement process. This thesis seeks to fill that gap.

The objective of this research is to advance excellent corporate stakeholder engagement and reporting practice by developing a successful assessment framework. Through this framework, internal and external stakeholders will be able to examine a company's stakeholder engagement reporting and compare it with best practice.

The research, conducted via interview and literature review, has resulted in an initial version of the assessment framework, which includes the following eight categories:

• Utilisation - Whether stakeholder engagement is used, and to what extent.
• Materiality - How the company identifies issues important to its business, and whether stakeholders are involved.
• Stakeholder Identification - How the company selects its stakeholders, and whether it shares this information.
• Transparency - Whether the company is transparent regarding its engagement process and the concerns of stakeholders.
• Impact - What impact engagement has had on the business.
• Process Improvement - How the company approaches ongoing improvement in its engagement process.
• Inclusion - Whether the company makes efforts to address the needs of diverse individuals in its engagement and reporting.
• Assurance - What international reporting and assurance standards the company uses.

The thesis also discusses key factors for the success of this framework, including speed and ease of use, clarity, flexibility, intellectual robustness, usefulness to corporate practitioners, and ability to drive excellent corporate stakeholder engagement and reporting.