Dialogue with stakeholders: a responsibility and a commitment
26.07.2016 | Sustainable finance
“Dialogue with stakeholders” is a necessary and beneficial process for all companies dedicated to maintaining constructive relationships with their ecosystem. How does this dialogue take shape at BNP Paribas? How is it organised? Does it have a real impact on the Group’s activities? Emmanuelle Bru, Head of Stakeholder Dialogue at Group CSR Function, provides insight on these questions.
Companies frequently talk about their "stakeholders". For BNP Paribas, who are these stakeholders?
Emmanuelle Bru: A Group like BNP Paribas has an extensive and diverse set of stakeholders. First, there are our contractual stakeholders, who are easy to identify: Group employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders. But we also have many other strategic stakeholders, such as regulators, media, NGOs and civil society, investors, etc.
BNP Paribas states that it places dialogue with stakeholders at the center of its strategy. But what does that mean in practice?
Emmanuelle Bru: For us, that means ensuring quality dialogue with every stakeholder! BNP Paribas has always worked hard to ensure the quality of this dialogue. In 2011, while we were in the process of expanding our CSR strategy, we wanted to verify that we had correctly identified all of our stakeholders and formed a constructive dialogue with each one. So we undertook a comprehensive effort to map all of our stakeholders, identifying contacts within the Group, communication methods, internal policies, etc.
In 2015, these efforts were formalized in a document entitled, “Dialogue with stakeholders”, which detailed our process, dialogue terms, etc. Then we published our inventory on our website. It demonstrates our commitment to transparency in this area.
What concrete actions do you take to lead this dialogue with your stakeholders?
Emmanuelle Bru: Our dialogue with certain stakeholders is ruled by an internal policy. For example, the BNP Paribas Group’s Quality Policy outlines our priorities in terms of customer satisfaction. The July 1996 Agreement that created the European Committee, revised in June 2010, made it possible to modernise social dialogue across Europe. In addition, the CSR Charter for BNP Paribas suppliers underlines the ethical principles and commitments shared by BNP Paribas and its suppliers.
Who manages this dialogue at BNP Paribas?
Emmanuelle Bru: There is no single representative for all stakeholders. We have several representatives for each stakeholder category who serve as points of contact at BNP Paribas. These may include representatives at Group level (for investors), the business line level (for customers) or in the context of local relationships (for consumer groups, elected officials, etc.).
Our dialogue with certain groups of stakeholders is coordinated and managed by our central functions. For example, the Finance function coordinates all dialogue with investors and analysts, the press service handles dialogue with media, the CSR function interacts with NGOs, etc.
How do you determine if the process is effective?
Emmanuelle Bru: The Group has defined several indicators for tracking its dialogue with stakeholders, which help to evaluate the quality of stakeholder dialogue and to receive feedback on their expectations. These indicators are taken into account within the BNP Paribas strategy.
For example, the Group measures the level of engagement of its employees through the Global People Survey (GPS), as well as the level of satisfaction of its Retail Banking customers through the satisfaction barometers led by the Group’s different networks. Next, depending on the evolution of these indicators, we develop action plans for improvement.
So dialogue with stakeholders can have a direct impact on your activities?
Emmanuelle Bru: Of course! Our dialogue enables us to understand our stakeholders’ concerns and to integrate them into our decisions.
For example, to improve its products and services, BNP Paribas Personal Finance initiated a cooperation and dialogue process with different stakeholders involved in consumer loans, including consumer groups, family and charity organizations, institutions, etc. Meetings and working groups take place on a regular basis, enabling transparent discussions that reflect on the evolution of credit offers and practices. In 2015, these working groups focused on the mediation and simplification of credit practices and the credit distribution chain (from marketing to issuing credit), during the visit of one of our customer relations centers.