Stakeholder Engagement

Every organisation relies upon the effective flow of information between its stakeholders – in other words, good communications. For governing and representative bodies, this is particularly the case, since it is information (and not products) that is the primary output of their work. Failure to pay adequate attention to who that information reaches, how it reaches them and whether it is packaged correctly can affect everything else you do.

Stakeholders are people, groups, or organizations that have a direct or indirect stake in an organisation because it can affect or be affected by the organization's actions, objectives, and policies. Key stakeholders in a business organization include creditors, customers, directors, employees, government (and its agencies), owners (shareholders), suppliers, unions and the community from which the business draws its resources.

Although stakeholding is usually self-legitimising (those who judge themselves to be stakeholders are de facto so), all stakeholders are not equal and different stakeholders are entitled to different considerations. The intention is to ensure that you make the most of your work by communicating as effectively as possible with the audiences you are trying to reach.

Stakeholder engagement and participation practices are increasingly becoming part of mainstream business. They are used as a means to improve communication, obtain wider community support or buy-in for projects, gather useful data and ideas and provide for a more sustainable decision-making.  The potential advantages of implementing high-quality engagement procedures will include:

  • strengthening democracy by encouraging more active involvement by communities and other stakeholders
  • improving the quality and sustainability of the services provided by the organisation
  • building a greater community cohesion. 

Stakeholders are those groups who affect and/or could be affected by an organisation's activities, products and services and associated performance. This definition will not include everybody who may have knowledge and/or a view of an organisation.  Organisations will have many stakeholders and each of them will have a distinct type of interest and level of involvement, often with diverse and sometimes conflicting interest and concerns. The sheer number of stakeholders an organisation has and the diverse interests and involvement of each and every one means that an organisation will not be able to engage on the same level with all stakeholders. Therefore, mapping/analysing all known stakeholders could be of great benefit to organisations enabling an evaluation of the level of engagement.