By Linda Fisher Thornton
A quiet group of stakeholders is being considered in leadership conversations. They can’t weigh in on major decisions, but they have a lot at stake in the decisions that get made. They are silent stakeholders, and the decisions we make in our meetings every day affects them directly.
These silent stakeholders include consumers who expect to have their interests and their safety protected. They are current and future employees who want to work for ethical companies that care. They are communities and ecosystems that need protecting to ensure our healthy and successful future. Are we considering their needs when they aren’t in the room? Are we hearing them?
Ethical leadership includes proactively doing good and preventing harm. Our responsibility to do that extends to silent stakeholders – people who can’t speak up in protest when we’re about to make a bad decision that affects them.
Business leaders are increasingly expected to demonstrate care for stakeholders who are not in the room.
With so many ethical scandals in the news, consumers have become quite aware of risks. They are more actively protecting their interests, even though they are not invited into the closed meetings where decisions that affect their health and safety are made.
Considering Our Impact on Silent Stakeholders
Leaders who think long-term and seek to minimize harm broadly consider all stakeholders, including those who are not in the room.
At our best, we demonstrate care for all constituents, all the way up and down the line.
As you consider these questions, keep in mind that ethical leaders recognize and honor their responsibilities to all constituents, including those who are not in the room.
- What will be the effect of this decision on the end user?
- What will be the long-term impact of this decision on the environment, communities and ecosystems?
- How will those who cannot speak for themselves (but need our care) be affected by this decision?
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