The following is excerpted from Issue 15 of The Corporate Citizen. To learn more about how you can inform and improve your programs through stakeholder engagement, consider joining us for our course: Stakeholder Engagement: Identify, Prioritize, and Act.
Stakeholder engagement can be a tremendous accelerator for companies working to identify their most material corporate citizenship issues. The engagement process helps companies determine the issues for which they are most likely to be held responsible, those that are associated with their business in the minds of their customers and critics alike—and those they are most suited to address.
Working session with EY and Aranda leaders in Bogota, Colombia.
In the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s 2014 State of Corporate Citizenship, more than 70 percent of executive respondents reported that stakeholder engagement contributes to company success, and more than 60 percent planned to increase resources allocated it in the next three years. Regardless of the method employed, any corporate citizenship effort developed with stakeholders in mind helps ensure ongoing, productive relationships.
One of the world’s leading professional services organizations, Ernst and Young (EY) says its purpose is to “build a better working world.” To meet this mission, it provides its clients with the expertise necessary to ensure their future growth, supporting not only their continued success, but also stable local economies and overall economic health. By engaging with their clients to refine best practices and determine both their needs and those of the communities they serve, EY leverages its unique skill sets to achieve business and social value.
“EY’s purpose challenges those of us who work in our corporate responsibility function to ensure that we are creating shared value,” said Deborah Holmes, Americas Director of Corporate Responsibility at EY. “The work we do adds the greatest value to our purpose when it takes the same distinctive services and competencies we use in our business every day and applies them to helping solve our communities’ most pressing challenges.”
To create effective corporate citizenship programs, EY builds on the insights gained from direct forms of client engagement—such as its unique People Advisory Services (PAS), Purpose-Led Transformation (PLT), and Climate Change and Sustainability Services (CCaSS). These three subservice lines were created in response to increased interest in how environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues can be integrated into business strategy.
“We know that consumers, employees, and other stakeholders expect more from business,” said Holmes. “Our clients—current and potential—want to work with organizations that will help them created shared value, strengthening their business while we strengthen our communities.”
These advisory programs have informed a comprehensive suite of corporate citizenship efforts that focus on three distinct issues:
- Growing the positive effects of entrepreneurs
- Developing future generations of talent
- Building a more diverse and inclusive society
One of EY’s entrepreneurship-focused initiatives, the Vantage program, sends EY’s highest performing mid-career employees to provide pro bono support for high-impact entrepreneurs in countries that are strategically important to the world’s growth. EY Vantage Advisors spend six weeks in an emerging country, working full time to assist entrepreneurs in addressing their key business challenges.
Established in 2005, the Vantage program has donated $10 million in value of service. Employees have logged more than 60,000 pro bono hours to support 213 placements across 30 countries. In the past decade, EY has helped companies like Previta—a Mexican company focused on chronic disease detection and treatment—to create optimal business processes to best utilize their newly installed SAP software.
“Through our Vantage program, we use our more than three decades of experience in recognizing and advising fast-growth companies to amplify the positive social impact of entrepreneurs,” said Holmes. “We believe that these firms are the creators of social and economic value, and that supporting the growth of entrepreneurship in emerging markets is one of the most powerful ways we can help to support job creation and transform emerging economies.”
To learn more about how to develop and execute a stake-holder engagement strategy, structure, and process, consider joining us for our Stakeholder Engagement: Identify, Prioritize, and Act course.