We're continuing our journey through 13 different services offered by sustainability consultants, and today we're focusing on the #5 most popular type of offering:
5. Stakeholder Engagement (48.4%)
Engaging a number of constituents in sustainability including, but not limited to, employees, customers, community, non-profits and partners.
Studies show that employees are increasingly motivated by environmental or community causes, and seek to work for organizations that align with their personal values. Employers benefit too:
- Towers Watson reviewed engagement across 50 global organizations and found that operating income in high-engagement companies improved by 19.2% over a 12-month period. In low engagement companies it declined by 32.7 %.
- A survey of more than 13,000 full-time US workers in 2008 revealed that highly engaged employees are 26% more productive and their companies earned 13% greater returns to shareholders over a 5-year period.
Similarly, the value of knowing who your stakeholders are and what they care about is an essential part of a good business strategy. Whether it’s figuring out a new market, or being more prepared to anticipate investor demands, engaging and responding to external stakeholders is an area ripe for consultant support.
Well known speaker and writer John Marshall Roberts, recently wrote, “5 Proven Strategies for Inspiring Employee Engagement” in which he stressed the importance of: starting with small wins, having empathy for non-believers, making it fun, keeping it simple, and sticking with it. These five strategies work not just for employees, but for a range of stakeholders.
Many firms seem to be focusing on his third point of keeping it fun—or even taking it a step further, by keeping it competitive, through a new trend called gamification. SunPower used gamification this past year by launching a facebook contest to educate consumers about solar energy. (You can read more in Tilde Herrera’s article, “SunPower Turns to Gamification to Engage with Customers" on GreenBiz.com.)
Engaging customers is also important to a company’s success. In many cases it is as important as engaging students to support their university, citizens to support their town, or non-profits (watchdogs as Dan Etsy deems them) to support corporations. In his book “Green to Gold” he recognizes McDonalds and Chiquita for their long-term partnerships with the Environmental Defense Fund and the Rainforest Alliance respectively.
Common Jargon and Terminology: Green Team Building, Sustainable Community Outreach, Public-Private Partnerships, Sustainability, Employee Engagement, etc.
Where You’ve Seen It: Pay Dirt’s ECOHIVE offers a way to “create company buzz with a community-focused, internal web portal that inspires education, collaboration, action and recognition.” SustainAbility offers an “Engaging Stakeholders Program” providing members with a forum to discuss stakeholder engagement, disclosure and reporting. Two Tomorrow’s offers a UNEP Stakeholder Engagement course, which could also fit nicely under our next topic.
See the other types of sustainability consulting we've already covered:
- #1: Strategic Planning and Implementation
- #2: Training/Education
- #3: Marketing/Communication
- #4: Sustainability Reporting
Check out our past blogs to follow the “State of the Sustainability Consulting Industry” series:
- What Sustainability Consulting Is (and Isn’t),
- Types of Sustainability Consulting Organizations,
- By the Numbers: U.S. Sustainability Consulting Market,
- and State of the Sustainability Consulting Industry to learn more about the background for these findings
Have you been thinking about launching your own sustainability consulting practice or maybe taking your current practice to the next level? Maybe you are looking to build your consulting skills to attract, capture, and retain a solid client base? Have you established systems to run your business … so that your business doesn’t run you? We’ve heard many of these questions and more so Jennifer Woofter is leading the ISSP 2013 Consultant Cohort program to help sustainability consultants launch successful practices. Learn more and register today, we can’t wait to meet you and work with you further in this year’s exciting ISSP Consultant Cohort program!