Windhoek-Local communication specialist, Talitha Jario, highlights that good relations with stakeholders can only be achieved through adequate access and dissemination of information.
Advancements in technology have triggered a complete transformation in the way information is accessed and disseminated across an organisation. “Previously, stakeholders were perceived as passive and willing to accept the information they were given, the frequency in which it was imparted and the medium it was provided in. However, this has changed,” Jario states.
Increased education and skillsets, along with increased exposure to the media, have resulted in stakeholders becoming active and autonomous. Information influences decision-making, as stakeholders granted access to adequate information to make informed decisions will ultimately result in successful working relations, increased participation as well as compliance to regulatory requirements.
The King IV Report on Corporate Governance is explicit in its governing principles on stakeholder relationships. It states that, in the execution of its governing role and responsibilities, the governing body should adopt a stakeholder-inclusive approach that balances the needs, interests and expectations of material stakeholders in a manner that corresponds with the best interest of the organization over time. This includes exercising ongoing oversight of stakeholder relationship management and ensuring that, fundamentally, it results in the management of stakeholder risks, forming an integral part of organisation-risk management.
Jario further acknowledges the proposed introduction of an Access to Information Bill in Namibia, highlighting the importance that the government places on transparency and accountability for both national and international development. “This is further proof of Namibia’s ambition to work within international marketplaces and frameworks,” she adds.
Conversely, factors resulting in poor stakeholder relations have been attributed to a lack of proper information, a lack of communication and a failure of information management systems.
“For instance, strategic management programmes often fail to consider the impact that relevant information resulting from managerial decisions may have on the engagement of stakeholders. Managing access to information, communication systems and the process of distribution is pivotal to building relations with stakeholders,” Jario continues.
Society consists of different interest groups influencing governmental, corporate, non-profit, regulatory, consumer and media environments. Therefore, no institution can operate in isolation and constant interaction with relevant stakeholder groups to facilitate dialogue should be done. Respecting this stakeholder sequence is vital to ensuring continued trust and respect between organization and stakeholders.
Jario also emphasises the importance of quality information forming part of the value chain of any organization, as this can potentially impact performance in a significant manner.
“Information is a resource that assists in the empowering of others which has the capacity to bring change. It is, and should be the cornerstone of every stakeholder engagement process,” she concludes.