Stakeholder engagement: the role of facilitators and gender in ‘opening up’ conversations and enabling participation

Belinda Wade, Bishal Bharadwaj, Amrita Kambo, Mikayla Jensen, Katherine Witt*, Franzisca Weder, Anna Phelan, Peta Ashworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


A successful global transition to net-zero emissions requires complex transformational change involving stakeholders from across society. Traditionally, stakeholder engagement has been debated predominantly from a pragmatic, functionalist and instrumental perspective. Recent approaches in business communication, sustainability, energy and environmental management show that meaningful and ‘sustainable’ stakeholder engagement is helpful in maintaining an organisation’s social licence to operate. We problematise the notion of participation in deliberative processes and analyse whether the outcomes of an online Australian citizens’ panel are truly representative of all participants or whether specific cultural and demographic factors, particularly gender, influence participation, potentially shaping the outcome. The study shows how gender need to be considered and managed as part of a legitimate deliberation process. Applying Gastil’s input-process-outcome model as a framework, we examine the engagement achieved through deliberations conducted on Zoom. We focus on gender as a variable and the role of the facilitator in managing participation. The results suggest that participants’ contributions to discussions vary based on gender of both participants and facilitators. Based on findings, the challenges of achieving equality in participatory processes are identified. The facilitator’s role is re-defined as a curator of the stakeholder engagement processes, complementing existing theory on stakeholder participation and engagement.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralasian Journal of Environmental Management
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • change
  • Deliberation
  • engagement
  • facilitators
  • gender
  • stakeholders

Cite this