5 Tips To Manage Multi-Stakeholder Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives


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.

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–         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!

Be Watchful Of Credibility ‘Degraders’. ‘Small’ Stuff Does Matter.


Continuing the theme of gaps that can trip up people as they go about their work and life I am sharing the next article in the Credibility ‘Degraders’ series.

What is often considered as trivial ‘stuff’ to ignore at the workplace can become the Achilles heel of many.  Here are a few key essentials that you can’t ignore.

  1. Not owning the outcome: When you are assigned a role you need to be taking responsibility for the final impact, whatever it is. If it works well, feel proud and thank those who contributed to its success. When it fails, take ownership and find ways to learn from the experience. It takes courage to say you dropped the ball – that shows your maturity, not your weakness.
  2. Not thinking through a plan: Rather than jump into assignments ask and gather all the insights you need to make it a success. Every plan will have challenges and roadblocks but thinking through can reduce the chances of you being caught unawares later. You may not end up have a well-executed plan and outcomes. However, if you have taken the effort to do your groundwork stakeholders will appreciate you more than for pulling through a half-baked plan.

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  1. Not learning about the business: Whatever the business, there is no excuse for not knowing how your organization makes an impact, who they serve, what stakeholders think of the brand and how teams do their best to achieve success. Spending time with employees will help you gain insights far greater than sitting at your desk and hoping you will discover the secrets of running the show.  Leaders can provide context to some extent – the real deal is when you engage with those on the frontline.
  2. Letting others dictate your decisions: If you are the resident expert on a subject you need to be able to confidently articulate the value proposition  it brings, how your team is the most equipped to deliver results and how and why certain decisions are made. It doesn’t mean you mustn’t listen to feedback or consider relevant opinions which come your way from stakeholders. It means that you need to finally take an informed decision that is inclusive and in the best interest of the team, organization and stakeholders. Letting others influence your mind to make unsuitable decisions can be career limiting, to say the least.
  3. Not checking facts: Before you share any draft or documents or speak your mind check your facts. There are many ways to know you are accurate – ask the experts, seek advice from leaders or go to the trenches and see it for yourself. Anything that comes from you, even if it is a forwarded message from another individual, the chances are that the information will be attributed to your name. You have the responsibility to verify data and ensure you are confident that they are reliable and credible in a world that is becoming hard to believe.

Have other suggestions on ‘small’ stuff that matters? Please share them here.

You can read my earlier post on Credibility ‘Degraders’.