4. Dialogue with stakeholders

Apart from all service-oriented contacts with customers, Rabobank often interacts with other stakeholders. We continually engage with our stakeholders when discussing our strategy and topical issues.

Dialogue with stakeholders

Of course, our customers are the most important target group. Other stakeholders are civil society organisations, our own employees, regulators, the government, the media, fellow industry members, investors and rating agencies.

Discussions with all these different stakeholder groups always lead to valuable insights in the form of enthusiastic motivation, recommendations or tough criticism. These talks allow us to monitor if we are doing the right things in the right way. Our stakeholders keep us on our toes.

Listening to the customer

Rabobank has regular discussions with regulators, special interest groups, civil society organisations, politicians and the media about our strategy and topical issues. We also have several face-to-face contacts during member conventions, round-table discussions, investor meetings and trade missions.

The local member banks in the Netherlands are in constant contact with their members’ councils. In our international branches, we use a similar approach in the form of 'client panels'. In 2015, we also organised an extensive dialogue series about developments in Dutch society during the next decade, the social challenges for the Netherlands and the interpretation of Rabobank's role in 2025. We have also held 'feedback meetings' this year where customers were able to give feedback on the working methods of special asset management and points for improvement.

When introducing new products, we regularly ask our customers for their opinion. We also have a special website, Think Along With Your Bank, where customers can respond to statements about their bank. We ask if they are satisfied with our services, ask targeted questions about products, and analyse the feedback that we receive. Moreover, we have polled our stakeholders’ opinions through written and telephone surveys.

The members also played a key role during Rabobank's structural change. In December 2015, the members’ councils of all our local member banks in the Netherlands voted unanimously in favour of Rabobank’s new governance structure.

Determining priorities

Through our stakeholder dialogues, we actively involve important target groups in our policies and related choices. On the basis of these discussions, we identify topics that are most important to our stakeholders.

We determine our policy priorities on the basis of materiality: an assessment of the interests of the stakeholders and the interests of Rabobank. In other words, if both parties find something very important, it will receive the highest priority. We combine these interests in a materiality matrix to show the shared points requiring attention, and what influence these can have on our organisation.

The table showing the stakeholder dialogues highlights the material themes that are most important to our leading stakeholders and their ranking in priority. This materiality analysis is based on the 'G4' guidelines for reporting on sustainability, established by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

materiality matrix

Check the materiality matrix

Opinion of societal stakeholders

In 2015, we asked societal stakeholders for their opinion of Rabobank. They gave us a mark of 5.8 out of 10. That is an improvement compared to 2014, when we scored 5.5.

The highest valuation comes from civil society interest groups, regulators, politicians and unions. They consider being in touch with societal developments, transparent communication and integrity as important themes. With some stakeholder groups, Rabobank scored considerably better than in 2014. For example, Rabobank has managed to win a lot of ground with civil society interest groups. In 2015, consumer organisations were most critical of Rabobank’s reputation, giving a score of 5.1.

The direct relationship with Rabobank received a higher valuation of 6.6 in 2015 than in 2014 of 6.4. The 2015 figures vary substantially: regulators gave us an 8.3, while consumer organisations gave us a 5.4. Generally, people give a higher score to the relationship with Rabobank than to Rabobank’s reputation.

Average marks per stakeholder group Reputation of Rabobank
Reputation of Rabobank
Relationship with Rabobank
Relationship with Rabobank
Civil society interest groups 7,1 ↑ 4,4 7,0 ↑ 4,9
Politicians 6,6 ↑ 5,9 7,5 ↑ 7,0
Regulators 6,5 ↑ 5,9 8,3 ↑ 7,6
Unions 6,4  - 6,7 -
Sector organisations 5,9 ↑ 5,8 6,5 ↓ 6,6
Journalists  5,7 = 5,7 6,7 ↑ 6,2
Government  5,5 ↑ 5,3 6,7 ↑ 6,2
Consumer organisations 5,1 ↓ 5,6 5,4 ↓ 6,1
Total mark 5,8 ↑ 5,5 6,6 ↑ 6,4

Figures are based on the Stakeholder Reputation Insights study by research bureau Motivaction. The study took place in the third and fourth quarters of 2015 among 56 representatives of eight stakeholder groups. The valuations have been given by means of scores on 35 aspects.

The most important points requiring attention for Rabobank, as expressed by the interviewed stakeholders are:

  • In touch with societal developments
  • Transparent communication
  • Integrity
  • Company ethics
  • Exemplary conduct
  • Consistent management message
  • Future organisational vision
  • Public service role

It is our intention to conduct the Stakeholder Reputation Insights study in a different way in 2016.