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Henisz Teaches Lessons in Corporate Diplomacy

On Wednesday afternoon, Witold Henisz, presented his recent book, Corporate Diplomacy: Building Reputations and Relationships with External Stakeholders, offers corporate leaders a framework to increase their effectiveness when engaging customers and external stakeholders.

At the center of the conversation are multinational companies, which too often don’t engage with their communities, suppliers, partners and employees.

As Henisz said during the session, a strategic management of relationships with external stakeholders is necessary in order to gain trust throughout society. An effective stakeholder engagement process (“corporate diplomacy,” as he calls it) creates benefit for customers and value for the company.

Henisz shared with the audience the elements of corporate diplomacy and presented six necessary steps to create a participatory environment where shareholders and stakeholders are involved and engaged at any level.

He proposed the following guidelines:

  • Integration: integrating stakeholder data into core business systems. Stakeholder information needs to be integrated into the whole business and shared across all relevant internal teams (marketing, financial, etc.);

  • Interpersonal skills: Just as important as analytical data. NGOs, partners and other involved groups need to feel their voices are listened and understood by the corporate;

  • Learning: Adapting to negative feedback in a necessarily imperfect system. Corporate diplomats need to adapt and change based on the feedback they receive from stakeholders;

  • Openness. Strategically communicating to reinforce trust and reputation;

  • Mindset: Cultivating an externally facing organization mindset in order to get a collective vision.

Overall, a participatory approach aiming to build trust is today crucial to bridge the gap between different stakeholders groups and the multinationals that serve them.

Henisz stressed the value and importance of cross-sector partnerships and invited the audience to visit his online platform, where he shares case studies and other resources regarding corporate diplomacy.


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