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  • Penny Clark-Hall

Refections: Social licence and motherhood

When there is so much out there to trip us up in our efforts to be the best version of ourselves, it is our shared humanity that brings us back from the edge.

As I enter my last week before I become a mother of two, it occurred to me that there are a lot of similarities in how we earn our social licence to that of how we raise our children. This is due to the core element of social licence being trust, which begins with meaningful connections.


Brene Brown, researcher and professor famous for her Ted Talk on vulnerability describes the connection we humans need and share as ‘the energy that exists between us when we feel seen, heard, and valued; when we can give and receive without judgement; and when we are able to derive sustenance and strength from a relationship.’ It’s what we strive for as mothers but is also what is required by stakeholders in business and industry today.


As mothers we strive to connect meaningfully with our children so they grow up to be full-hearted resilient humans that add value to the world. As businesses we strive to serve those who have the strongest influence over our success, that needs to change. Our world view and ability to influence as humans means businesses are more vulnerable to a more extensive list of stakeholders than before, who require a deeper consideration and connection.


What motherhood and businesses do have in common with stakeholder relations when we need to negotiate with a hostile one. Whether you're held hostage over who’s going to eat the sausage or go straight to bed, or have protestors at your gate what is required is not the natural 'fight or flight' response but a significant effort to find common ground with those who have different views on the what is fair and just.


While the lengths we go to to connect may be different, none of us are exempt from the need for it. A question 99% off all my clients always answer yes to is that their parents told them to 'treat those the way you wish to be treated' growing up. The reason being that this is the one golden rule shared by all humanity.


No matter what race, religion, sex or position of power you might have, ‘The basic principles of human relationships endure across time and translate across cultures. Therefore, any approach (including our earning of our social licence to operate) that uses relationship universals will succeed in being universal.” (Boutillier and Thompson)


This is what the Social Licence Consulting aims for - building enduring stakeholder relationships by using the universal human principles. 


Translation? Being good humans. As parents, how we help our children develop plays a huge role in the adults they become. Like any relationship it is only as strong as the work we put into it - children and stakeholders alike.


By humaninsing how we operate and engage as businesses and industries we find common ground, achieve value connection and earn trust. That is what our social licence is measured on.

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© 2019 by Penny Clark-Hall of Social Licence Consulting. All rights reserved.

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