Your Governance Questions Answered
I hear the word stakeholder and wondering what stakeholders are and how they are different than shareholders? Are taxpayers shareholders?
A shareholder or stockholder owns a part of a publicly traded, for-profit corporation through purchasing shares or stock in a specific company. Shares hold economic value and can be redeemed (sold) for monetary value.
On the other hand, a stakeholder is broadly defined as any person, organization, community group, or society that has an interest in or may be impacted by the activities of your organization. School authority stakeholders may include employees, students, unions, community groups, and governments, as some examples.
In the conventional context, taxpayers are considered stakeholders of government or public bodies, rather than shareholders. Generally speaking, society holds a collective interest in the activities of government and public organizations, rather than individual ownership. Some may contend that taxpayers own a portion of all government assets; however, taxpayers cannot redeem their portion or sell their share of public assets for money in a traditional sense.
At our Board meetings, we have trustees who tend to speak for extended periods to explain their position or make their points. Often I tune out because I’ve either heard the issue before or the explanation is so longwinded I get bored or confused. The same thing has happened when we have had public guests presenting. Our Board Chair wants everyone to have their say and not feel they have been cut off. Is there something we can do?
Long speeches can easily take up a lot of time in meetings if every trustee wishes to speak on every topic. An effective solution is to set time limits for trustee comments and public presentations. Time limits are useful for two key reasons: 1. it requires the speaker to really focus on key points and reduce their filler speech. 2. The Board will have improved control over meeting lengths by limiting soapbox lectures. For public presenters, time limits of 5 minutes is standard, and should the presentation be longer, the Board can ask for any additional comments to be submitted in writing.
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