AccountAbility, the global not-for-profit standards developer is revising its AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement standard (AA1000SES) the world’s first international stakeholder engagement standard. The first edition, published in 2005, made it possible to embed engagement into core business strategy and practice. Thinking and practice have advanced rapidly in this area and AccountAbility is now revising its standard in order to establish a new international benchmark.
The first public consultation period for the 2nd edition of AA1000SES is now under way. This initiates the start of the much anticipated collaborative drafting process, which follows an extensive period of multi-stakeholder research and analysis. The first consultation draft can be found on the AccountAbility wiki-platform at www.accountabilityaa1000wiki.net .
The next-level of stakeholder engagement
After the initial publication of the standard in 2005, AccountAbility conducted an extensive pilot with over 30 companies. This resulted in a series of findings and recommendations for improvement that have fed-in to the first draft of the 2nd edition.
The aim of the revision is to move AA1000SES beyond Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and to make it strategically relevant for aspects of business. The revised standard aims to provide robust and flexible guidance and to enable organisations to use stakeholder engagement to effectively contribute to sustainable development in an accountable manner.
The AA1000SES 2nd edition will be consistent with the AccountAbility Principles Standard – AA1000APS (2008) which requires quality stakeholder engagement. It will also complement standards such as the SA8000, GRI and ISO, and will support developments in other areas such as quality management, transparency, reporting and governance. The revised standard aims to provide a better link to other sustainability initiatives and their understanding of quality stakeholder engagement.
The 2nd edition AA1000SES is being revised on a state-of-the-art interactive web-based wiki platform, which builds on the successes of the wiki used for the successful revision of the AA1000 Assurance Standard (2008).
The use of a wiki addresses head on the key challenges for any standards development process: access and transparency. The wiki makes it possible for thousands of individuals and organisations to provide their input without facing access barriers such as the cost of travel to meetings and the difficulty of cutting through dominant voices. It also keeps a transparent record of everyone who has participated as well as the nature of their input; it is a very versatile tool for effective stakeholder input and feedback.
The collaborative drafting process will be supported by consultation workshops that will take place worldwide from October 2009. The final standard will be published in 2010.