Stakeholder engagement in the creation and maintenance of corporate citizenship

27 May 2009

Recently numerous references have been made to corporate social responsibility, corporate or brand citizenship, stakeholder engagement, partnerships, sustainable development and effective corporate governance. One of the fundamental issues in corporate citizenship is the ability of an organisation to cope with its various stakeholders and enter into partnerships with these stakeholders for improved business ventures. The question, however, remains how can organisations take a structured approach to engage and consult with stakeholders. Organisations need to know who their stakeholders are, and should be accountable to these stakeholders. Stakeholder accountability requires that organisations must ensure that governance systems foster an understanding of business relationships which will allow balanced business judgments to be made. Stakeholder "voices" need to be heard at the highest level of organisational governance. This article attempts to define and describe the concept of stakeholders, illustrates how partnerships can be built between stakeholders and organisations, and provides a South African perspective on public/private partnerships in a rapidly changing business landscape. It underpins the importance of creating business networks, but emphasises that maintenance of relationships with stakeholders are pivotal for organisations in becoming good corporate citizens.