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Oct 19, 2021

From carbon neutrality to supply-chain relations: An issue-by-issue debrief of stakeholder matters

IR Magazine report looks at how companies and investors handle stakeholder concerns

The latest research from IR Magazine shows a gap in the way that companies and investors focus on different stakeholder issues, with more data reported on certain topics while investors actually want to know about something else.

For example, although resource management and socio-economic development are the topics investors least want to discuss, these (along with employee relations) are actually the most common stakeholder issues for companies to have reported on in the past year.

As well as looking at what companies and investors want when it comes to stakeholder issues overall, the Stakeholder Management report also offers an issue-by-issue debrief of priorities. Here are some extracts.

Carbon-neutrality goals

‘Of all the stakeholder issues identified in this report, carbon-neutrality goals have seen the greatest increase in company focus and investor interest,’ write the report authors, but it is ‘clearly a bigger issue for larger companies than smaller firms. Regionally, carbon-neutrality is slightly less of an issue in North America than in Europe or Asia.’

Customer relations

Of the stakeholder issues identified in the report, customer relations is the one most commonly discussed between IROs and investors – and that applies across all cap sizes. Regionally, however, European IROs are more likely to discuss customer relations with investors than IROs from North America or Asia. Interestingly, North American investors appear less interested in the issue.

Employee relations

When it comes to the actual reporting of stakeholder issues, employee relations is one of the most reported-on themes identified in the report ‘and is an area of high company focus,’ say the report authors. But it is an issue perceived to be of less interest to investors.

Government and regulatory engagement

Government and regulatory engagement is seen as the stakeholder issue of most interest to investors and, having seen strong growth over the past five years, is now one of the most commonly discussed issues between IROs and investors. Investor interest is high across all cap sizes but ‘it is generally a less important issue in North America than in Europe or Asia, in terms of both company focus and investor interest.’

Public health measures

Understandably, there has been a high level of discussion with investors around public health measures in the last 12 months, as a result of the global pandemic. ‘Even so, it still remains an issue of relatively low interest for investors,’ notes the report. Larger companies are more likely to have had discussions with investors and reported on public health in the past 12 months, while more IROs at smaller companies have seen an increase in company focus.

Public relations & corporate reputation

PR & corporate reputation is the least reported of the issues identified in the Stakeholder Management report, although more than 70 percent of IROs have seen an increase in company focus on it in the past five years. The issue is generally deemed to have the same level of importance across all cap sizes, though larger companies are more likely to discuss these issues with investors.

Resource management & waste

Resource management & waste is the issue most reported on by companies but perceived as of least interest to investors. As with many other issues, resource management is of greater concern to larger companies, in terms of both company focus and investor interest.

Socio-economic development

This is one of the most reported-on stakeholder issues by companies but the least discussed with investors. It is one of the areas considered to be of lesser interest to investors, although more than half of IROs have seen an increase in investor interest over the past five years.

Supply-chain relations

Among the stakeholder issues identified, supply-chain relations are relatively low in terms of company focus but score higher when it comes to investor interest. More North American IROs have had discussions with investors on supply-chain relations than have IROs in other regions, but perceived investor interest is actually lowest in this region.

Click here to download the full Stakeholder Management report for more insights into company reporting and investor engagement across these stakeholder issues.

Staff Writers

The staff writers on IR magazine are from our team of highly experienced journalists.