Sub-principle 3.A

Support and participate in inclusive dialogue and consultation


Why is it important?


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) stress the need to work in multi-stakeholder partnerships; adopt cross-sectoral approaches; and focus on localised, context-based approaches while targeting the bottom of the pyramid. Developing inclusive dialogues and consultations is complex due to the disparity of contexts and the diversity and lived experiences of different actors. Multinational corporations should support greater dialogue with local stakeholders in the development and implementation of development co-operation projects, as this helps companies have a more local perspective on the challenges, opportunities and context-adapted solutions in the country or local area. It helps test new markets, initially on a non-commercial basis. It will also enhance the legitimacy of the project and build trust and respect.

Self-reflection questions
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  • As part of your multi-stakeholder partnerships, have you committed to regular inclusive dialogue with affected communities and do you know what this entails, including your own role and responsibilities? 
  • Do you have a code of conduct, agreement on terminology and conflict resolution mechanisms in place for these dialogues and consultations with beneficiaries and affected communities? 
  • Have active listening processes with beneficiaries and co-creators been set up? 
  • Are you aware of the principle of free, prior and informed consent and do you have policies and processes in place to ensure this is respected?

Actions to consider
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  • Participate in regular consultations organised by the governments of, as well as the development partners present in, the countries where you have active operations.
  • Consider a partnership with a representative association that gives voice to local communities or supports similar economic interests.
  • Be clear that dialogue with affected communities and beneficiaries must focus on specific and practical issues, rather than remaining at the level of theory and principles or process.
  • Support the capacity of business associations and civil society to engage in public-private dialogue, including their ability to organise, develop common positions and carry out advocacy work.
  • Encourage engagement with co-operatives in your supply chain and use tools developed to help to “actively listen” to partners in your supply chain. 
  • Assess which vulnerable groups may be affected by the project. Support the identification of and access to partners involved in the value chain.

Pitfalls to avoid
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  • Consider inclusive dialogue as only a small part of the partnership.
  • Impose the language of your company instead of adapting to local context and needs. 
  • Assume dialogues are one-size-fits-all and not develop explicit ways of taking gender issues into account during those processes.
  • Assign limited resources, time and budget to allow for thorough and meaningful consultation processes.


Through the Kenya Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP), Equity Bank supports the financial integration of 374 000 households in 4 chronically food-insecure counties. Equity Bank’s role involves opening accounts and setting up a payment infrastructure for branches, agents and merchants. The funds (which come from DFID, Australian Aid and the government of Kenya) are sent to the bank by Financial Sector Deepening Kenya and the Kenyan government when a cycle is due. The HSNP effectively subsidised banks’ ability to secure large portions of the population as ongoing customers.

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