Should “Women” be a stakeholder group?

The ‘CPIG’ model of stakeholder segmentation has served change leaders well. The model defines 4 broad classifications of stakeholders who have an interest in, and/or could be impacted by a change initiative:

  • Customers/users of the change
  • Providers/suppliers of the change
  • Influencers/informers of the change
  • Governance/decision-makers of the change

The idea is that when introducing something new, change leaders should ensure that they identify, analyse and prioritise their stakeholders around the four classifications, and develop targeted stakeholder engagement strategies around said classifications. This is stakeholder engagement in a very simplified nutshell.

As can be seen from this model, there is no segmentation based on gender. The inference is that either and both genders co-exist within the four broad stakeholder segments.

In the past few years however, there has been a popular quotation which, on the face of it, implies the existence of another stakeholder classification. The quote is amusing and has definitely raised a smile on my face and some subliminal acknowledgements.

When the formidable Ms Madeline Albright (the first woman Secretary of State of the USA) was recently seen using a quote on the campaign trail for the equally formidable Ms Hillary Clinton, I had to stop and seriously take notice. The quote in question?

“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other”

So my question is- should we now upgrade or transform the ‘CPIG’ stakeholder model to specifically create a 5th classification called ‘women’?

Put another way-  should the ‘CPIG’ now be the ‘WCPIG’ model?

There are two camps: Yes, and No.

The ‘no’ camp contends that a ‘women’ category implies that we are a mass of herds, incapable of any complex and individual thought other than one based on gender. So in this case, this would mean that we all support Ms Clinton, just because she is a woman- period. Haven’t we moved away from such a narrow and demeaning classification of women, they ask?

The ‘no’ camp further argues that products and services have evolved today, to a point where no single product or service can be generically aimed at ‘the women folk’ and expect every woman to buy it or get on board. Women, like men, cross over many stakeholder interests and power segments such as customers, providers, influencers and governance, and therefore should be treated as such.

The ‘yes’ camp on the other hand, argues that when a change is so transformational that it aims to introduce a drastically new concept such as an inclusion of a minority/oppressed/disadvantaged group, said minority should be segmented and singled out as a specific stakeholder group. In this case, that group should speak as one, ‘take one for the team’ and for example, support Ms Hillary’s Presidential campaign…because she is a woman. A failure to do so as a woman relegates you to that “special place in hell”.

This rationale for the ‘yes’ point of view is a strategic one. It apparently goes something like this: If a woman gets unwavering support from other women to get into a high office, she creates significantly more chances for other women and therefore, moves us to a place where the norm is a plethora of women leaders and role models instead of the ‘token woman’.  In other words, we have to put our personal interests on hold in order to create a better and more diverse future i.e. this camp is an agent for change.

Both camps’ views are interesting. Which do you subscribe to?

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