Stakeholder engagement and trust building are terms we see frequently in the media and in company reports. Many organisations however, have a linear, action list, approach to stakeholder engagement: they have a list of stakeholders, each with an “issue” against them, and a timeline by when this must be ‘resolved’. They also confuse business goals with engagement objectives. Continue reading “One Question for South African CEOs”
This is my first post here! This blog is mainly about stakeholder engagement but it will include other things.
I used to be in the corporate world, but 23 years ago I set up on my own as a management consultant. I have been through various iterations of working with partners. However, I seem to function best in my own business.
My work has been mainly in organisational renewal and organisation design, strategy, due diligence and feasibility, regulatory impact assessment and of course stakeholder engagement.
I came to stakeholder engagement by accident. I was working for a large national client, and they were looking for a systematic approach to managing stakeholder engagement. As so often happens they were confusing stakeholder engagement with communications and public relations.
Eventually I found an organisation called AccountAbility, the custodian of the AA1000 suite of Standards, particularly the AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard. For a short while, I was the AccountAbility Associate Director for Emerging Markets.
For the past six years, I have slowly been building up my experience in the design, implementation and management of stakeholder engagement strategies.
Understanding the Standard is one thing. Getting it set up and working in an organisation is another. Many overseas organisations use stakeholder engagement as part of their CSI and Environmental strategies. In South Africa, it takes on a much deeper sustainability meaning linked to the licence to operate.
Why am I so passionate about stakeholder engagement?
We live in the time of Marikana, and Vuwani, of burning schools and #RhodesMustFall. We live in a time of service delivery protests and making the streets ungovernable. Embedded in our society is a loss of trust, a loss of the licence to operate. It has been brought about by neglecting or disrespecting important stakeholders.
Honest, hardworking stakeholder engagement, by government, business and civic organisations will go a long way to improving our society if we can reach out to each other, honour and recognise each other’s licences to operate and build the trust and respect required.
This is not about a political solution, or an economic solution or an ideological solution. It’s about ordinary South Africans finding each other, understanding each other’s issues and resolving to improve relationships.
I do not intend to start a stakeholder engagement consultancy. I like to work on my own, giving quality time to my clients. There is far more work in South Africa than I can ever cope with. I want to share my experience, and help those organisations that actively want to create a better South Africa. Moreover, do so without political slogans, without accusations and without corruption.
I want to share ideas on the practice of stakeholder engagement. I will share some of my other consulting insights, but mainly I will blog about stakeholder engagement. I hope you will follow me and that we can work together to improve trust levels throughout our community, our society and our country.
Follow me or come back here from time to time. It’s good to make the journey with you.