Social capital describes the pattern and intensity of networks among people and the shared values that arise from those networks. Greater interaction between people generates a greater sense of belonging and identification within the network, and fosters a greater level of cooperation and innovation.  Working with stakeholders to foster organisational relationships and cultivate valuable networks is an essential part of building social capital in your company.

What is it?

Social Capital is an organisational resource. It is comprised of the knowledge, skills, networks and relationships of a diverse pool of people connected with your company and is a reflection of the quality of those connections.  Stakeholders include employees and contractors, customers and shareholders, investors and donors, regulators and creditors, strategic partners and Executive and Non-Executive Directors.  The networks span the full spectrum of agencies:  public, private, commercial, community, charity and non-government organisations.  Accessing these networks and unlocking the value for your organisation is essential to the value-add of your company’s leadership.

Why is this important to the Board?

Enterprise resilience relies heavily upon the alignment between internal capabilities and changing external circumstances – the ability for the organisation to anticipate change and adapt to the new.  Sustainable organisations are able to respond to a continuously changing environment because they maintain a diverse repository of social capital that leads by adaptation and innovation.

The Board is tasked with ensuring enduring value for the company as part of their governance role and accountability to the shareholder.  The Board must lead by example.  The relationships that surround the Board and senior management team are a critical part of the social capital mix, yet are often overlooked, poorly developed or just not strategically engaged.  Board level networks can operate on a multiplier effect – opening doors and paving the way for substantial gains at the company level.

How do you measure social capital?

There are a number of different aspects to social capital and measuring the level of social capital is complex. People can be asked a range of questions covering a variety of issues that focus on levels of trust, memberships, networks and social contact.  Ultimately, you see the results in an engaged stakeholder community by being engaged!

Survey results enable us to clearly identify and measure business outcomes such as perceptions of social, environmental and economic performance, and reputation. We can also quantify the extent to which high quality stakeholder relationships contribute to these outcomes, and provides tactical advice on community engagement and communications or further develop key performance indicators.


What’s in it for you?

The Walton Group is committed to creating ‘Sustainable Value Networks’ within your organisational boundaries – creating value through stakeholder engagement by helping you identify and manage networks of innovation (using communications, websites, social media or other modes appropriate to your organisation) and developing a framework to implement, monitor and evolve these relationships. These networks enable you to use unusual relationships as a source of new ideas, gain insights into the direction technology is moving and benchmark client efforts against cutting-edge thinking.

  • demonstrate that your company is committed to engage with, listen, and respond to stakeholders and;
  • understand and measure relationships between stakeholders;
  • identify and measure relationships between issues that have material implications for development of the your vision and strategy;
  • provide evidence-based identification of opportunities and risks in the development and refinement of  community relations strategies

How do we do it?

  • Identify the stakeholders in the business, map the relationships and identify areas of strategic focus and multiple benefit realisation;
  • Design, develop and implement a survey that the company can continue to use independently in future years to track the progress of stakeholder and community relations activities;
  • Implementing and enabling team-based structures and establishing a framework of empowerment practices, education and skills development (see our Training and Development Practice for more information on these services)