Stakeholder engagement in Dutch listed companies
The Dutch stakeholder-oriented governance model provides a suitable basis for stakeholder engagement. In fulfilling their duties, Dutch boards need to act solely in the interests of their company, which is determined by observing the interests of all stakeholders with a view to long-term value creation. Relevant stakeholders include shareholders, employees and creditors, but wider societal interests arguably must also be considered. Dutch boards have significant discretion in how they weigh stakeholder interests.
ESG topics such as carbon emission goals, sustainable supply chains and diversity & inclusion may fit well within this stakeholder-oriented governance. However, there is no clear formal basis for stakeholder engagement and how it should be structured within Dutch (listed) companies.
Stakeholder committees in the Netherlands
Dutch companies have significant freedom in how they structure their governance to cater for stakeholder engagement. Installing a stakeholder committee is one way to ensure a clear channel for stakeholder engagement. Stakeholder committees may enable companies to identify relevant stakeholder interests in respect to ESG topics and provide for meaningful dialogue. By doing so, management can develop a deeper understanding of their company’s context and environment, which in turn may feed into future purpose and strategy discussions. Dutch law facilitates the instalment of stakeholder committees and meaningful engagement with these external stakeholders.
The first stakeholder committees have already been installed by Dutch listed companies. Through these committees, companies engage with external stakeholders and experts and receive their independent views and advice. Stakeholder committees thus facilitate and help formalize stakeholder consultations conducted by Dutch companies. We expect this development to continue, also in view of regulatory developments.
In the document below you can read more about the rise of stakeholder committees in the Netherlands and our expectations for the future.