By Tom Tevlin
Having worked as consultants on projects in three dozen countries, our team has had to learn to focus fast and hard on the key issues of corporate social responsibility in a given location.
A key lesson we’ve learned is the importance of mapping stakeholders in a region. If we’re going to work with a group to ensure its CSR commitments and actions are well understood, then that group will need a very clear picture of who’s who and which pathways of influence come into play in any given situation.
Stakeholder mapping helps a project leader evaluate influential groups and individuals based on impact, relationships and relevance, guides you in placing those stakeholders in a prioritized list, and forms an important basis for a measurable action plan on which to move forward with project consultations.
Think of it as basic navigation.
Gold mining in Colombia or Peru, sustainable forestry in Indonesia or British Columbia, and uranium extraction in Slovakia or Australia all require open, clear communications with interested parties. Stakeholder mapping is a first step in ensuring those interested parties are approached in a systematic, respectful and meaningful way.
Operating without a clear stakeholder map is like driving your own rental car through the streets of Mumbai without a GPS system, a proper map or any local directions. Having just considered that exact situation up close, I can tell you it’s needlessly difficult.
Languages may differ, cultures may vary widely and public understanding of a project may be harder to obtain depending on different regional circumstances. But a thoroughly researched, continually updated stakeholder map can be the difference between failure and success.