Stakeholder Centricity Is Your True North

Stakeholder Centricity Is Your True North

Every day, there are new social and political issues that business leaders debate wading into. But with companies losing customers and talent, passivity is no longer an option. Jump COO Colleen Murray outlines how companies can learn about and act on what truly matters to their stakeholders.

Workers are increasingly “facing off with their employers,” as the The Wall Street Journal recently noted, losing trust in their companies’ purpose and feeling generally mistreated at work. But what if the employees’ collective sense of purpose conflicts with customers, investors or regulators?

Companies need leaders that can create a shared sense of purpose for all critical stakeholders. They’ve got to create the belief that by working for/investing in/buying from the company, each key stakeholder is advancing their shared perception of a greater good.

After all, high-profile customer boycotts and employee rebellions are painful and problematic. Switching costs are lower than ever for both consumers and talent, and losing either group puts a company at risk.

Disney’s employee revolt over the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill last year created a chain of events that led to the resignation of then-CEO Bob Chapek. Like most executives, Chapek was reared on the notion that companies should steer clear of politics. As Chapek learned the hard way, that luxury is no longer on the table.

Of course, the Bud Light debacle indicates that the same thing is true for customers and their beliefs. With new issues arriving by the day, it can all feel like a no-win proposition. Yet there’s a way to be proactive and gain a measure of control while staying true to yourself. It begins with stakeholder centricity.

Stakeholder centricity as a clarifying and uniting force

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Rather than avoiding the issues stakeholders care about, company leaders should put the values of their stakeholders at the center of what they do. That means a deep dive to define who the critical groups are to develop a nuanced understanding of what each group values.

There’s no set formula for who your critical stakeholders are, either – so it’s vital to go beyond the obvious. There are often 4-5 key stakeholders or principles a company wants to serve, and you’ll want to understand the needs of each. Some companies use surveys and focus groups, but the best way is to simply walk the halls and work the phones, talking to individuals about what’s most important to them.

Read full article on Chief Executive.

Colleen Murray


Colleen works with executives through large-scale transformations: reinventing businesses and unlocking new markets. Her experience has crossed a number of industries, including consumer electronics, digital entertainment, consumer packaged goods, and office environments.