Robert Court – Global Stakeholder Strategies
Selected areas of political/stakeholder expertise and experience
General approach to business related political/ stakeholder work
- Ensure political/stakeholder issues are recognised as integral to the business.
- Embed political/stakeholder factors – both risks and mitigation options – in core business systems: Board/Executive/Investment Committees, due diligence, business development, M&A, country risk premia, new country entry, crisis management.
- Work with the commercial leadership to define precise business objectives, both pro-active and defensive.
- Ensure that resources are correctly viewed as a value driver rather than a cost. Measure all that can usefully be measured.
- Map formal and informal decision-makers/influencers with the power to enhance or destroy value; develop bespoke engagement plans for all the major ones.
- Wherever possible build lasting relationships based on understanding and trust. Back this up as needed with more muscular elements. Avoid surprises.
- Execute plans comprehensively and accurately.
- Get the in-country and corporate/global balance right.
- Invest in substantive, well-regarded policy work which can be leveraged to get a “seat at the table” and influence outcomes.
- Examples worked on: intellectual property rights; healthcare reforms; public private partnerships; investment climate; pricing; taxation and other imposts; transparency; local content; benefit sharing; human rights; sustainable development; energy policy and climate change; trade policy.
- Decide when to work as a single firm, with a small group of peers, or through a larger industry association.
- Pick respected partners to work with – international organisations such as Bretton Woods, OECD, G7, G20, EU; academics; civil society groups.
Geo-political priority setting
- Define and agree Group-wide criteria to determine which regions and countries are of key importance, and why. Include global “influence centres”.
- Apply these criteria as a form of “triage” to ensure that time and resources are focused on those jurisdictions of the greatest relevance to value.
- For major jurisdictions, get all parts of the business engaged – production, sales, procurement, JV partners, R&D, external affairs etc – aligned on a coherent overall Group strategy with a small number of clear objectives.
- Use this to drive Executive Committee alignment and support, mandate for a country head, steering committee, advisory panel, resourcing etc as warranted.
- Example: Rio Tinto selected ca 40 countries grouped into three tiers and used this to drive Group-level governance for each of the Tier 1 and selected Tier 2 countries/regions.
Mainstreaming political/stakeholder capabilities
- Build understanding that stakeholder engagement cannot be left to a small specialist team. Like safety, everyone has a role to play.
- Bespoke training with case studies and role play to help senior managers and those with external-facing roles understand the need to consider how the world looks to other people, and how to reflect this in decision-making.
- Anchor this skill-set as part of leadership selection and training.
- Example: Stakeholder Engagement Academy developed by Rio Tinto in partnership with Georgetown University and INSEAD plus global academic partners.
- China. Personal involvement in major crisis management and recovery, including transitional leadership of Rio Tinto’s Beijing Office.
- Crisis prevention and management. Ensure political/stakeholder issues and capabilities are core to crisis work. Manage this effectively, including the interface with legal/regulatory/compliance, media/comms etc.
- Build and manage political/stakeholder teams and networks. Design core central team and country/business unit capacity; get the diversity of the team/network right; identify/recruit/mentor the right talent; network it together to deliver “joined up” approach.
- Leverage US, UK, EU, other political influence, international organisations, civil society. Build effective “coalitions of the willing” by aligning incentives with firm’s commercial goals.
- Manage the in-house and advisory interface. Help firms make the right choices of expert advisory services and to have the in-house systems and capabilities needed to make good use of it.
Sample Network Activities