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Your account manager works with you to understand your goals, your challenges and achievable next steps.

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Stakeholder management is a critical aspect of modern business. It’s the process of identifying, mapping, and managing groups and individuals who are interested in or have influence over the work you are doing or the goals you are trying to achieve.

At its core, stakeholder management seeks to understand who has the power to help you achieve your goals and build a plan to influence them to do just that.

Why do I&D practitioners need to think about this?

Unless you are the CEO of an organisation, you don’t have structural power over every aspect of the organisation – power which comes from your role or position. Most I&D practitioners sit somewhere between a junior manager and a head of department. In a few cases, organisations have a Chief Inclusion Officer – but those are still few and far between. And even Chief Inclusion Officers need to manage their stakeholders to make change happen.

The journey to a more inclusive organisation often includes understanding the strategic power of inclusion, aligning policies and education to support inclusion, and winning hearts and minds. This means people need to do things differently –behavioural change from nearly everyone. That’s no small task.

Within organisations, people are most likely to change their behaviour because their unit leader or manager is driving the change, they advocate for it and connect people to why it’s important. And unit leaders are more likely to get onboard because others around them are role modelling the change and advocating for it.

What does that mean for the I&D practitioner?

Most I&D Practitioners will have responsibility for delivering their organisations I&D plan, but they don’t have the positional power to make behavioural change happen at a unit or organisational level. That can lead to performative I&D work – doing projects and hopefully making things a little better for some, but the work isn’t driving any substantial change in the diversity or inclusion of the organisation.

To drive real change we need to map out who is interested in our work, who has the power to influence our work. Generally, this is done using a four-box model, like the one below.

Diagram showing a four box model, in the top left box: Context Setters, Top Right box: Players, Bottom Left box: Crowd, Bottom Right box: Subjects - with an X and Y axis - X has a high to low scale for 'Power' and Y axis has a low to high scale with 'Interest'

Once you know who has the power to help make change happen, if they are also interested in the work, they are a context setter – and a great candidate to approach about becoming a voice for change. Someone to work closely with.

What if those in who have power to influence change aren’t really interested? If no one is in the top left-hand corner. That’s when you use influencing skills – another critical business skill. The art of influencing is about understanding that those with different personalities and motivations are influenced by different things than you – so you need to learn to speak their language, tap into their motivations to influence them that supporting the inclusion agenda will benefit them.

“We all know, in the inclusion space, there is more to do than we can ever get done. Clever stakeholder management can help you find the path of least resistance.”

Our training for managing stakeholder relationships
Diverse group of workers in discussion

Who has power can change depending on the situation.

Who has power in any given situation can change – power isn’t only the privy of those who have senior positions. That means you need to do some stakeholder mapping for each thing you are trying to accomplish.

An example from my own career was when I was trying to get branded logos for employee networks, this was part of a plan to help add to their legitimacy and voice in an organisation which valued ‘corporate polish’. I didn’t have a relationship with the Head of Brand, and I knew she had little interest in the work I was doing, getting her attention, or a meeting with her would have been difficult if not impossible. But a member of the brand team had attended a few recent Allies events and been vocal – and willing to talk part. I approached her, and she used her voice and influence in the brand team to get agreement to my request.

Taking the path of least resistance

The example shows that there are many paths to accomplish your goals. And we all know, in the inclusion space, there is more to do than we can ever get done. Clever stakeholder management can help you find the path of least resistance to accomplish your tasks and goals, making more progress, and creating more space to get more done.

Resources and training for stakeholder management for inclusion:

I’m a huge advocate of using business skills to equip I&D Practitioners to accomplish more. If you are interested in hearing more about stakeholder management for inclusion, then listen to our recent podcast.

We have recently released a new course specifically for developing your stakeholder management skills, our Manging Stakeholder Relationships for Inclusion course, accredited by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), can give you the tools and skills to recognise different stakeholder groups, as well as the importance of each type and the benefits of working with each one. You’ll also learn how to best resolve conflict, the frameworks of managing each type of stakeholder differently and measure the impact of your stakeholder relationships in relation to your inclusion agenda.

We also cover stakeholder management within our CMI Level 7 Strategic Approaches to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion qualification.

Why study with Inclusive Employers?

We are the go-to partner for 450+ organisations. We have more than 10 years of experience supporting decision-makers to develop and land their EDI strategies.

Unlike others, our team are EDI Consultants & Leadership Development experts. We talk from a place of experience, providing practical, meaningful learning journeys which increase the participant’s ability to take what is discussed and apply it in the workplace.

Our courses, together with our dedicated student support wrap, result in a pass rate of 95%+.

Members also receive a 10% discount on CMI Inclusion courses.

Want to learn more?

If you have a question about our CMI courses and qualifications or are ready to book a course, you can complete this short form, and we’ll get back to you shortly.


Grow your team

When you become an Inclusive Employers’ Member you grow your I&D team.

Your account manager works with you to understand your goals, your challenges and achievable next steps.

Do you need more support for your inclusive culture to thrive?

Learn about membership today

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