Jan 19, 2024  Jambo

Understanding the AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard

 

The AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard (AA1000SES) 2015 is a freely available standard for organisations of any size. It's described by AccountAbility as "a framework for assessing, designing, implementing and communicating quality stakeholder engagement." 

The AA1000SES is based on the principles of: 

  • Inclusivity 
  • Materiality 
  • Responsiveness 

The need for stakeholder engagement: 

The AA1000 standard describes stakeholder engagement as the process an organisation uses to engage relevant stakeholders for a clear purpose to achieve agreed outcomes.  

Here at Jambo, we say stakeholder engagement is an essential part of your project's success and is an inclusive process whereby an organisation interacts with its stakeholders. 

Regardless of how you define stakeholder engagement, it's undoubtedly a way to increase your understanding of your stakeholders, improve relationships, build social capital, and contribute to the success of your projects (like gaining permit approvals and securing licence to operate). 

Why use a stakeholder engagement standard like AA1000SES? 

To make the most of your stakeholder engagement plans and projects, stakeholder engagement should be designed and implemented credibly. Using a recognised standard provides a basis for your plans and helps you set yourself up for success from the outset.  

As with most processes, a shift in the level and approach can occur over time within an organisation, and the AA1000SES standard allows for that to happen.  

What does the AA1000SES (2015) consist of: 

The AA1000SES 2015 is broken down into four distinct sections. 

  1. Purpose and scope of the AA1000SES 
  2. Commitment and integration 
  3. Purpose, scope, and stakeholders 
  4. Stakeholder engagement process

1. Purpose and scope of the AA1000SES

Purpose and Scope of AA1000SES 2015

The AA1000SES is a framework for the assessment, design, implementation, and communication of quality stakeholder engagement.  

Organisations can use it to help them establish a process to deliver quality, inclusive engagement practices and valuable outcomes. 

The AA1000SES standard was designed: 

  • To enable organisations to respond in a comprehensive and balanced way to material issues, impacts and opportunities. 
  • Applies to all types and levels of stakeholder engagement (internal and external engagement and public, private, and civil society organisations of all sizes).  
  • It can be used for project-based activities and ongoing purposes. 
  • It can support many other standards that recommend or require stakeholder engagement, such as risk, quality, relationship, and knowledge management; social responsibility and sustainability; transparency and reporting; and governance and accountability. 
  • It's not intended to replace or undermine existing frameworks, such as government consultation requirements.

2. Commitment and integration

One essential element to consider with the AA1000SES is that you must commit as an organisation internally and externally to the AA1000SES principles.  

Integration of AA1000 Principles during Stakeholder Engagement

  1. Inclusivity - the participation of stakeholders in developing and achieving an accountable and strategic response to sustainability. An inclusive organisation accepts its accountability to those on whom it has an impact and who have an impact.  
  2. Materiality - determines the relevance and significance of an issue to an organisation and its stakeholders. A material issue is an issue that will influence the decisions, actions and performance of an organisation or its stakeholders.  
  3. Responsiveness - an organisation's response to stakeholder issues affecting its sustainability performance is realized through decisions, actions, and performance and communication with stakeholders.  

Integrating the standard focuses on: 

  • Integrating stakeholder engagement into organisational governance, structure, and relevant decision-making processes. 
  • Like all relevant policy and strategy development processes, integrating stakeholder engagement into the organisational structure. 
  • Integrating stakeholder engagement into operational management and systems. 

3. Purpose, scope, and stakeholders

The AA1000SES states that successful engagement depends on understanding why an organisation is engaging (the purpose), what issues to engage on (the scope), and who needs to be involved in the engagement (ownership, mandate, stakeholders).  

Purpose, Scope and Stakeholder_AA1000SES

First, you focus on establishing the purpose of your engagement and how it is connected to your organisation's overall strategy and operations. 

You then establish the scope of the engagement: 

  • The subject matter the engagement will address 
  • The parts of the organisation (e.g. regions, divisions, etc.) and associated activities, products, and services the engagement will address 
  • The time frame the engagement will address 

You then determine the mandate, ownership, and stakeholders of the engagement. 

Stakeholder identification is a huge part of successful stakeholder engagement. The standard states that a methodology must be established to identify stakeholders. We also discuss this in our blog, 'What is stakeholder analysis?'.

4. Stakeholder engagement process


Having established the purpose, scope, and stakeholders for the engagement, you now need to ensure a quality stakeholder engagement process is in place.  

The AA1000SES stakeholder engagement process includes four stages. 

Stakeholder engagement process_AA1000SES

Plan
  • Profile and map stakeholders 
  • Determine engagement levels and methods 
  • Establish and communicate boundaries of disclosure 
  • Draft an engagement plan 
  • Establish indicators 
Prepare
  • Mobilise resources 
  • Build capacity 
  • Identify and prepare for engagement risks
Implement
  • Invite stakeholders to engage 
  • Brief stakeholders 
  • Engage 
  • Document the engagement and its outputs 
  • Develop an action plan 
  • Communicate engagement output and action plan 
Act, review and improve
  • Monitor and evaluate the engagement 
  • Learn and improve 
  • Develop and follow up on the action plan 
  • Report on engagement 

 

If you're working to improve your stakeholder engagement and considering adhering to the AA1000SES standard, a stakeholder relationship management software like Jambo should be a consideration for your toolkit. 

The full AA100SES 2015 standard is available for free download on the AccountAbility website. 

Published by Jambo January 19, 2024
Jambo

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