Stakeholder engagement: a crucial element in the governance of corporate reputation
The King III Report on Corporate Governance for South Africa (with a separate chapter on Governing Stakeholder Relationships) highlights the importance of stakeholder management in corporate governance. For the first time the inclusive approach to stakeholder relationship management is explained more fully and principles on how stakeholder relationships can be managed in a corporate governance context are provided. These have implications for corporate communication strategy in all organisations. The inclusion of all stakeholders in corporate issues has taken centre stage in corporate governance. In any given communication situation, a stakeholder could play many roles in an internal or external organisational environment. Total stakeholder involvement (engagement) is crucial and will have implications for organisational practices, reputation and corporate sustainability. The explosion in social media and networking has empowered stakeholders beyond imagination. Their roles are no longer merely employees, clients or the community in general, but on the virtual stage of communication, stakeholders are taking on roles as citizen editors, journalists, writers, recipients and interpreters of their own communication material. They can become reputation ambassadors or demolishers in the corporate environment. In this continuous neo-corporate communication environment, it is not about communication control, but about communication power-sharing. In this article stakeholder engagement as an allinclusive communication management approach will be illustrated by considering stakeholder theory, corporate governance and integrated reporting and the growing importance of reputation management.