Stakeholder Engagement

By PathFinder Strategic Resources

There is a momentum-gaining awareness of the importance of effective stakeholder engagement, be it at the level of social/community participation, corporate reputation management, or at the level of marketing, branding and engaging with the consumer.

Included under the definition of Stakeholders are:

* employees
* partners
* suppliers
* investors
* customers
* communities
* consumers and consumer associations
* the media
* special interest groups and NGO's
* government
* shareholders

A stakeholder therefore is anybody who has a claim, stake or vested interest in the issue at hand, or in an organisation, or in his or her relationship with a product, service or brand.

A fundamental truth for any venture is that people are ultimately our only means to the end. Taking a stakeholder focus to any business or civic venture ensures a higher probability of completion and success of such a venture.

From an operational perspective, Stakeholder Engagement entails the creation of effective linkages between a) the management of your stakeholders and b) your business objectives in order to achieve cumulative benefits.

This means there has to be strategic synergy not only between costs and business objectives, but that synergy also has to include the company or organisation's relationships with its various stakeholders.

Research has proven that as we strengthen relationships with primary stakeholder segments, it has a positive knock-on effect on relationships with secondary segments as well as on the performance of the organisation as a whole.

In order to galvanise stakeholders into positive action and advocacy, the following are basic requirements:

* Have or create a compelling business or venture model that offers authentic and enduring benefits
* The model has to have evolving capacity so as to remain needs based and relevant as time progresses
* Operate within legal and especially ethical boundaries as part of reputation management and demonstrating respect for stakeholders
* Connect to stakeholders via transparent dialogue and active exchange.