Jointly developed by Rever, Uniethos and Utopies, Critical Friends International is an on-line resource platform dedicated to the practice of dialogue with stakeholders within companies. From the more traditional to the more innovative, all forms of dialogue are presented, analysed and illustrated by case studies. Launched on the occasion of the Rio+20 conference in Brazil, the platform is available in three languages (French, English, Brazilian) and includes about thirty case studies.
The project is an extension of “Critical Friends,” a report produced in 2007 by Utopies (with AccountAbility) on stakeholder panels. Since then, companies around the world have not only continued to make use of such external advisory committees, but also explored a wide range of possibilities of dialogue with stakeholders. The goal ? To better understand the expectations of stakeholders on social and environmental issues, to thus better respond to them, and to strengthen the credibility and depth of their strategy in this realm. This approach has also spread internationally, including to South America: Brazil thus benefits from a particular focus on this platform, with a dedicated context document and specific case studies.
At the same time, with the launch of ISO 26000 in 2010, certification organizations have confirmed the major role played by dialogue with stakeholders in the definition and deployment of sustainable development strategies. Today, the most forward-thinking companies on the issue are establishing an even stronger link between dialogue and their business strategy, by involving stakeholders in their drive for innovation and by creating links to their governing bodies.