Do you know who your stakeholders are and how to influence them?

Last week was a bit of a watershed as I realised I’d found a subject that I’m quite passionate about so I would like to continue last week’s theme when I posed the question “Is your board a homogenous bunch of best buddies?”

I decided to invest some funds in a “Polishing your profile” workshop with the Women in Technology group last week and that all important intuition told me I should sign up and it proved to be a worthwhile investment. What I discovered is that you need to spend a minimum of 10% of your time spouting forth about your achievements, rather than just getting on with it, which was a revelation to me. You also need to nurture your “stakeholders” and “advocates” who may have power over your career.

Deciding on who my stakeholders are was a task I found quite difficult and my mind map started going in lots of different directions. I would recommend trying to map all your stakeholders as it is quite illuminating and gave me quite a long list of action points at the end of the task. If you do not have something resembling a spider’s web then you might want to think about investing in some more networking. It gets even more interesting when you have to start scoring each relationship out of 10. We got lots of handy tips such as joining interesting clubs and committees in order to socialise more with your “stakeholders” and using your lunch breaks for networking.

Last night I got around to reading the first chapter of the book I got given on the course called “Beyond the Boys Club” and I discovered to my delight that the “Norway experiment” which I alluded to in my last blog, is considered to be an unprecedented success. By 2008 women made up 36% of corporate boards in the largest companies in Norway which is just 4% short of the original government quota of 40%. Research by a company called Catalyst in 2007 further found that those Fortune 500 companies with at least 3 women directors experienced the most dramatic returns for sales and invested capital.

So my challenge now is to encourage those of you reading this blog to suggest what needs to be done next. We all know how hard it is for any director to get their first board appointment, so how do we ensure our boards are more representative of the shareholders and customers they serve. In the case of several UK banks, this is the tax payer. Maybe we need to ensure that the three new high street banks the government wants to see should have the voice of the customer on the board. I remember some years ago how powerful it was to let the Company Directors listen to a tape of customer’s interviews on the level of service they were getting. Would you like to see some fundamental changes in the way the board of your bank works and start making more informed choices? We have a real opportunity to influence all our stakeholders and make change happen.

Dr Suzanne Doyle-Morris (2009)Beyond the Boys Club”
Catalyst (2007) The Bottom Line:Corporate Performance and Women’s Representation on Boards”.

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