Global Stakeholder Strategies

Stakeholder strategies to enhance and protect value

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Evolving risks

The scope, complexity and impact of global risks continue to grow: geo-political, stakeholder, environmental, social, governance, health and reputational. Individual risks combine and influence each other and are accelerated by the rapid world-wide flow of information.

New responses

To succeed in today’s world, organisations need to challenge themselves on understanding the external risk environment as it affects them, and to develop effective mitigation options.

Why Global Stakeholder Strategies?

To help organisations manage this complex area with a focus on value, business risk mitigation, and embedding the necessary capabilities with the right range of stakeholders to understand, anticipate and manage external risks.

Its founder and managing director, Robert Court, brings a combination of:


years experience with the British Diplomatic Service in developed countries, the developing world and international organisations (the European Union and NATO).


years experience managing external and government affairs with two major multinationals in highly contested sectors – Rio Tinto (mining) and GlaxoSmithKline (pharmaceuticals).

A network of contacts with experience in all the main stakeholder groups (governments – international organisations – communities – civil society – media – influencers), specific types of risk, and various parts of the world.

Not only can successful organisations survive the current risk environment, they can become stronger and more resilient by handling it well and secure competitive advantage. Key to success is the ability to engage, listen , influence and adapt.


Robert Court -
Global Stakeholder Strategies
Selected areas of political/stakeholder expertise and experience
How I work –
The Golden Rules

Approach to managing political/ stakeholder/ reputational risk

  • Core tasks
    • Ensure political/stakeholder issues are recognised as integral to the business.
    • Embed political/stakeholder/reputational factors – both risks and mitigation options – in core business systems: strategy, board/executive/investment committees, due diligence, business development, M&A, country risk premia, new country entry, crisis management. 
    • Work with senior leadership to define precise business objectives, both pro-active and defensive, which are critically dependent on political and stakeholder factors.  
    • Ensure that resources to manage these areas of risk 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.
    • Build lasting relationships based on understanding and trust. Back this up as needed with more « muscular » approaches .  Avoid surprises.
    • Execute plans comprehensively and accurately.  
    • Get the in-country and HQ balance right.
  • Policy work
    • 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 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 and influence centres 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 leadership 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.
    • Boost and embed capabilities through coaching and mentoring support; talent and performance management; team building and alignment; use of best practice models and templates.
    • Example: Stakeholder Engagement Academy developed by Rio Tinto in partnership with Georgetown University and INSEAD plus global academic partners.
  • Other areas:
    • 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 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 the organisation’s 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.

Get In Touch

Contact us to discuss how GSS can help your business to grow and protect value.

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