SOURCE: General Electric (GE)
In mid-September 2012, GE’s Citizenship team experimented with a new practice of in-depth online stakeholder engagement. Specifically, we invited 50 sustainability experts from around the world into a weeklong virtual dialogue on the OpenEyeWorld (OEW) platform to provide feedback our new Citizenship Web portal.
This strategy enacts what Jane Nelson of Harvard University, a member of our Citizenship Advisory Panel, outlined in a video accompanying last year’s Citizenship Report: social media will “provide platforms for companies themselves to engage much more creatively with stakeholders from an accountability perspective and get feedback from stakeholders on things that the company is doing and help ongoing engagement for stakeholders.”
The “asynchronous” nature of this Expert Exchange distinguishes it from existing practice of in-person and online stakeholder engagement (such as Webinars and TweetChats), which typically happen in real-time. On OEW, stakeholders weighed in across multiple time zones at their convenience, allowing a longer arc of dialogue to develop. For GE, this kind of “virtual CSR expert convening” extends our strong existing practice with the Citizenship Advisory Panel and other thematic expert gatherings onto the Social Web.
The Expert Exchange, facilitated by Bill Baue for Addison asked stakeholders to “broadly assess specific strengths and areas of potential improvement” on design and content in separate threads devoted to specific reporting areas:
The “evergreen” thread generated more than half of the 40 comments that came in over the 5 days, with almost half of the invited experts participating in the overall Exchange. Issues generally fell into two broad categories: Reporting processes and practices; and reporting on management and governance of sustainability performance
In general, stakeholders liked the site design—for example, the layout of the People, Planet and Economy infrastructure. Here are some of the highlights of constructive feedback:
Following up on these stakeholder inputs, GE Citizenship is currently analyzing which suggestions identified in the Exchange can be addressed, either immediately or in the near future. For example, we plan to:
We will also continue to explore online engagement, pushing ourselves (as well as the broader corporate sustainability community) toward interactions that continually enhance performance and reduce adverse impacts, guided by our Citizenship Advisory Panel.
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KEYWORDS: Marketing, Media & Communications, People, Social Action & Community Engagement, Technology. Innovation & Solutions, Stakeholder engagement, experts, Reporting, Transparency, openeyeworld, sustainability, Disclosure, csr, GE