I just returned from the Social Venture Network conference in San Diego, which is always my favorite annual event. This group, which has been in existence since 1987, works toward creating a just and sustainable world by supporting and promoting companies and their leaders through collaboration, self-reflection, and action. Aside from the insights and inspiration from being with such a large group of mission-aligned folks, what I appreciate most is the quality of the connections that are made, expanding community, and making new friendships. True friendships. My tribe, for sure.
When my daughter, Alexia, and I started Dharma in 2007, it was our intention to build a community, which we now also refer to as our stakeholders. It may be obvious that the merchants for whom we process credit card payments are considered stakeholders in our business, but we also expand that definition to include any person that comes in contact with our organization directly or indirectly. We consider our staff, family, and friends of family as stakeholders; all of our supply chain vendors; anyone who comes to our website whether they become clients or not; and our nonprofit beneficiaries as well as the people across the globe that they serve. We even see how our competitors are stakeholders of Dharma as they also are influenced via association.
So what is the value of holding our stakeholders in this light? We see it as a subtle yet powerful change of intention and inclusion. When you consider all those with whom you come in contact with or have touched, you start to see just how interconnected we all really are – the web of connectedness becomes more apparent, more tangible. For me, even an exchanged pleasantry in the elevator means that the other person has automatically become enrolled as a stakeholder of Dharma (and of me personally) as this new connection may be the result of “how we are being” at our company. And how are we being? We are being loving, we are being inclusive, we are being grateful, we are being abundant. In fact, this way of seeing begs the question, “who isn’t a stakeholder?”
Please note: while Dharma was a Registered B Corp at the time of this posting, it no longer is.