Advocacy collaboration can have an increased impact and deliver real benefits for businesses, civil society and policy makers
Joint advocacy balances the policy goals of both business and civil society, is underpinned by transparency and robust evidence and backed up by action, can overcome the limitations of individual efforts and deliver greater impact.
It can build better policy and political capital for change: By pooling expertise, evidence and insights, both sectors are better able to understand issues, agree shared priorities and identify new and better ways to tackle complex systemic challenges. Through the actual process itself of collaboration, they build the political capital that transformational change requires.
Shifting entrenched mindsets: Given that structural and mindset change is hard to achieve, unlikely partners advocating together can help to shift old attitudes and norms and enable wider reach to non-traditional stakeholder groups and opinion leaders. The ability of companies and NGOs to combine economic arguments with social, humanitarian and environmental messages can be particularly effective in gaining attention and changing the way policy makers conceptualize issues.
Strengthening trust: Advocacy collaboration can also build a deeper understanding of complex issues between organizations, which generate internal shifts in attitudes, behaviors and practices over time and enables organizations to build the trust necessary to move into more challenging policy spaces.
Policy makers can also benefit from advocacy collaboration which, by consolidating multiple perspectives and evidence into coherent and consensus-based policy recommendations, can improve the quality of policy design, provide assurance and political capital for change and make the policy analysis and consultation process more efficient.
Potential benefits for business
Deepening understanding of social and environmental challenges
Business can access civil society’s on the ground expertise, evidence and insights, to build understanding of wider social and environmental challenges. This can add substance and credibility to a company’s advocacy activity as well as helping it to improve its sustainability performance and stakeholder relationships on the ground.
Increasing trust and legitimacy
Joint advocacy that reflects the views of both civil society and business in a transparent and mutually respectful manner can also help to address concerns about business legitimacy and lack of trust that can undermine business advocacy efforts.
Mitigating the commercial risks of acting alone
Joining forces with other businesses as well as civil society organizations helps to reduce the potential commercial risks of being a lone champion on a policy issue. Jointly pushing for legislative change that compels laggards to keep up ensures that the playing field remains level.
Potential benefits for civil society
Harnessing business influence on governments
Civil society organizations advocating with business can harness the more established relationships that companies often have with governments, especially with ministers that direct a country’s economic priorities and resources. In some cases, civil society organizations have asked large companies to make the case for more progressive workplace and human rights laws to governments. They reason that governments are more likely to take on board the views of large investors and employers directly impacted by such policy measures.
Influencing the internal policies and practices of businesses
Evidence suggests that collaborating on advocacy can be a powerful way for civil society organizations to influence change in business partner attitudes, policies and behaviors.
Enabling access to business resources
A lack of financial resources can often be a significant barrier to civil society-led advocacy and joint advocacy efforts. Large companies especially can leverage increased funds, technology platforms, networks and scaling capabilities.
Potential benefits for policy makers
By bringing together and consolidating multiple perspectives and pieces of evidence into a coherent policy position and recommendations, advocacy collaboration can also be beneficial for policy makers by:
Improving the quality of policy design and implementation
Providing assurance and political capital
A common policy narrative developed and endorsed by a wide range of organizations can provide policy makers with a greater level of assurance that they are heading in the right direction. This in turn can also strengthen public support or “political capital” for the public policies that emerge.
Reducing administrative burden
Advocacy collaboration can reduce the burden of gathering and evaluating multiple and fragmented information and points of view. This can be particularly valuable for government departments facing severe capacity or resource constraints.