The opportunities to make a tangible difference to the communities around us are now even more within the reach of organizations. With the recent 2% CSR guidelines coming into play in India more and more organizations are involving stakeholders to engage and implement solutions on the ground that matter to the lives of many. However when engaging multiple stakeholders organizations also face challenges in navigating conflicting interests, procedural matters and turbulent environments even when the intentions are for the betterment of society. Here are some pointers that organizations can consider while engaging on initiatives that involve multiple stakeholders.
– Establish ground rules of engagement: Getting everyone on the same page is the starting point in any intervention. Clearly defining the scope, goals, ownership and outcomes early in the process can drastically reduce the gaps further downstream in the initiative. Unfortunately, not every stakeholder may get a chance to participate early in the process. Consider challenges you may face with probable groups that feel left out in the process of engagement.
– Document conversations: To avoid uncomfortable situations at a later point in time document all conversations with stakeholders when they occur. Have agreements signed, saved and accessible for stakeholders to verify and validate. Make visits to the site, if needed, and identify any gaps that you may have missed. This can help improve trust and transparency among stakeholders.
– Seek early commitment: Articulate the vision and share it widely with stakeholders. Understand perspectives and approaches each stakeholder brings to the solution. Seek feedback from the beneficiaries involved. If possible, pilot a segment of the initiative to check how well it will be received. Have a single point of contact from each stakeholder to engage to avoid disagreements and misunderstandings at a later stage of the program.
– Demonstrate value: Highlight the program’s impact and chart a milestone based progress map. Host this map on a common platform, if needed. Get stakeholder feedback on the milestones you have covered and iteratively proceed with the rest of the initiative.
– Recognize success: Thank stakeholders for their commitment and hard work. Recognize formally and informally when the opportunities arise. There is no better recognition than beneficiaries sharing how they find value in the initiative all partners contributed to. Recognize specific individuals who went over and above to make a difference. Lastly, communicating on owned media is also a great form of recognition.
The path to successfully implementing a corporate social responsibility program can be challenging. Factoring in these aspects of the program can reduce the uncertainties that you may face along the journey.
Wishing all my readers a wonderful New Year!