„We realized that over the years we have mechanized the communication process (with society) but have lost the conversation.”
EITB – the Basque public television and radio station – was in the process of launching a program to fulfill its responsibility as a good corporate citizen. Many suggestions for a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) program had been discussed internally within EITB. Suddenly a suggestion emerged from a discussion during one of their meetings: Why don’t we ask key stakeholders from the Basque society to provide us with their ideas for a CSR program instead of conceiving it internally only among ourselves? The idea to embrace the use of a participatory process to define EITB’s corporate social responsibility was born out of this inquiry.
Due to the nature of EITB, there was a need to have a broad spectrum of members from Basque society to be represented in this dialogue. This thinking informed the careful recruitment of 55 Basque citizens, each of whom represented a different aspect of social engagement. In addition 30 employees of EITB and 20 “citizens” who were interested in the topic joined in the conversation.
The overall purpose of this effort for EITB was to identify and define a CSR initiative that both made sense to Basque society and showcased EITB’s special abilities at the same time. In addition, EITB aimed to strengthen the relationships with key “social stakeholders”. This was achieved listening to their needs and expectations by involving them in the dialogue process.
The group of over 100 participants identified 3 main options for EITB to pursue as they defined their CSR strategy. After careful review, the EITB board decided to focus on one option: Enhancing the positive image of the Basque country abroad. They felt that this particular issue played to their strengths as a television and radio station. Another result of the World Café was the development of an “advisory group” for their CSR activities. The 55 “social stakeholder” participants of the World Café continue to provide advice and support EITB’s CSR activities.