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New Business Guides CEOs on the Path to Stakeholder Capitalism

Kent GregoireIf the implementation of Stakeholder Capitalism requires a strategic and systematic process, it stands to reason that the emergence of this field will foster the creation of a new cadre of experts, services, and technology, much as occurred in the fields of total quality management, customer relationship management, loyalty management, and many others. Along with the Enterprise Engagement Alliance and its Engagement Agency division, Stakeholder Business is among the first businesses specifically launched to help guide CEOs seeking to make the shift to Stakeholder Capitalism.

Inspired By His Father
It Starts With the CEO
The company’s name says it all: Stakeholder Business. Kent Gregoire founded the firm last year with Meghan French Dunbar and Nathan Havey on the premise that Stakeholder Capitalism offers a competitive advantage, and that, while the benefits of it are clear, how to implement the model to realize those benefits is not. The company says it helps “leaders with proven strategic guidance on exactly what Stakeholder Capitalism is and how to implement it to build a thriving stakeholder business.”

This article and an EEA YouTube show and EEA Stakeholder Capitalism podcast interview with Gregoire delve deeper into his views and   the company’s story and services. 
The company’s founders have years of experience in the Stakeholder Capitalism world, explains Gregoire. In addition to his own 38 years of experience, colleague Meghan French Dunbar “has been a significant voice in the Stakeholder Capitalism movement for the last decade,” according to the company. Nathan Havey is “an authority on social, environmental, and financial sustainability in business, with years of involvement in the Conscious Capitalism movement." The two created “a live storytelling series and coached more than 130 business leaders in 14 cities to tell the story of how they aligned what they did for good with what they did for work.” 
As explained by Gregoire, “The work of Stakeholder Business includes helping CEOs turn purpose into profit (as a consultancy) through a model of stakeholder business. It also is built upon a theory of change that includes five domains to “expand the game of business to build a world that works for everyone.”
The company’s services include: “award-winning inspirational content, insider interviews with exemplar CEOs in the space, and a proprietary methodology informed by over a decade of experience with stakeholder business." It describes itself as a one-stop-shop for anyone interested in or looking to deepen their understanding of Stakeholder Capitalism.” The new company is an offshoot of 37-year-old Symphony Advantage, Inc., a certified Conscious Capitalism consultant “whose mission is to foster the widespread adoption of conscious capitalism around the world, and to elevate humanity by aligning businesses with people, purpose and profit.” 
Despite decades under the radar screen, Stakeholder Capitalism “is accelerating. More and more conversations are taking place.” He doesn’t believe the anti-ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) movement will have much effect, nor does he believe that the lack of a formal definition is holding back progress, since “it stands to reason that there will be many different approaches.” He is neutral on the new European Union Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, While he agrees the law may have a significant impact, he says he prefers organizations to embrace strategies because they are better for business and society than for compliance reasons. 

Inspired By His Father

Gregoire recalls dinner conversations as a child when his father would bring home suppliers or customers, sometimes impromptu to the consternation of this mother, and share plain talk at the dinner table. “Those conversations were what began to help me understand what it was like to engage with stakeholders in a way to better understand their needs and to help them be more successful. People are always asking of stakeholders: What can you do for me? Give me more, give me better. My father had a very different approach that created stronger relationships, so that when the going got tough, they were there to help the company see it through. The company benefited from more innovations; there was better cooperation, and my father really enjoyed working with all his stakeholders, many of whom were a very big part of his daily life.”
Launching a company in the last century focused on Conscious Capitalism principles, Gregoire admits, put him way ahead of his time, but he believes the tide is turning because of pressures from investors, talent, customers, and other stakeholders. In the early days of the business, many of the CEOs gravitating toward Conscious Capitalism “were or had been at a pinnacle somewhere and maybe they had come down on the back side of the mountain, or were just not really feeling good about where they were at, wondering ‘isn't there really more to life?’ And so while their companies were still very profitable, they wanted to see that they could have some greater impact. Some CEOs would say to me, ‘I lost my mojo.’ And so, as I began working with them, the ideas that I shared with them were fresh; they hadn't heard them before and they were willing to give it a try. Clients had a lot of trust in me very quickly because our clients came from very trusted relationships based on referrals. So, it was a really good symbiotic relationship and for me was a lot like test kitchen for what has become Stakeholder Business."

It Starts With the CEO

Today, the company’s clients still are always the CEOs, but there now is a greater urgency that goes beyond a personal change of consciousness, he says. “We now have a responsibility as leaders. It's much greater than it was in the past, when we thought, and many still think today, that the primary purpose of the business is only to make a profit...You must make a profit in order to create impact on your larger mission. I would say it's more about redefining what makes for a successful business, which means looking beyond the financial metrics and profitability to developing collaborative relationships so that all your stakeholders are at the table.” Helping stakeholders thrive, he emphasizes, can have a significant impact on sustainable business results because of the higher productivity, quality, referrals, loyalty, innovation, etc., that result.  
Society has come to the point that companies won’t have much choice but to implement Stakeholder Capitalism, he says. “People have become more selective. They are using their money with real intention to the brands they buy from as to their values and what they represent and that’s not going away. The competitive advantage by far is going to businesses adopting this new way of doing business.” Investors, he believes, increasingly recognize the trade-offs created by short-term thinking. Focusing on “quarter-over-quarter earnings unfortunately creates a lot of trade-off thinking that is what actually deteriorates value over time. Without going through a long list of companies, we've seen that happen time and time again; CEOs once touted as the best aren’t looking so good over the years.”
The key, he advises, is to focus on long-term value creation for all stakeholders, starting with a clearly stated purpose. Defining that “purpose is actually the most strategic decision that a company will make,” as it explains for all stakeholders the basis upon which decisions will be made. This is why CEO leadership is essential, he stresses. “All our clients are the CEOs and the senior management team.” 

To help clients make the shift to Stakeholder Capitalism, Stakeholder Business offers a variety of resources and services, starting with the film it helped produce, Beyond Zero, which tells the story of a manufacturing company that made and has maintained the shift to a sustainable business model.
For CEOs ready to get started, the company offers an Acceleration Lab, “a cohort-based, 12-month learning program for any CEO who wants to build a thriving business that matters alongside peers on the same journey.”
Its “Building A World-Class Company Purpose” workshop “is designed to help company teams refresh or uncover their company’s higher purpose and create a strategic plan for implementing it.”
Stakeholder Engagement Masterclass “guides leaders to think outside of the traditional business paradigm, which uncovers assets that will take your company to the next level of performance.”
Other services and resources include:
Start your journey with a free, virtual stakeholder business crash course 
Foundations Workshop
Deepen your journey with a customizable stakeholder business workshop
See the stakeholder capitalism model in practice through a screening of the award-winning film Beyond Zero

Beyond Zero Trailer 
BIGGBY Coffee Case Study 
Stakeholder Business Resources 
Beyond Zero Virtual Screening 
Solving the Impossible Workshop 

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Click here to learn about the EEA’s bi-partisan petition to keep politicians out of business management.

1. Professional Education on Stakeholder Management and Total Rewards
2. Media 3. Fully Integrated Business Development for Engagement and Total Rewards
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4. Advisory Services for Organizations

Stakeholder Management Business Plans Human Capital Management, Metrics, and Reporting for organizations, including ISO human capital certifications, and services for solution providers.
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The EEA promotes a strategic approach to people management and total rewards through its e-newsletters, web sites, and social media reaching 20,000 professionals a month and through other activities, such as:
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