I’ve written before about multiple stakeholders, so I was pleased to hear what Brian Chesky shared about who he considers to be the stakeholders of Airbnb.
Yes, shareholders. But also employees (who also hold equity), visitors, hosts, suppliers, partners and the communities they operate in.
What particularly struck me was the way Chesky has designed in consideration for each set of stakeholders into the way the business works.
Here are his recommended first steps for setting up in business:
Define your core values.
Define your principles – the things you believe to be true that other businesses don’t.
Write down all your stakeholders.
Then, for each stakeholder set, define 2 or 3 promises you make to them that you will never break.
I love this! It means that a business is a system for making and keeping promises – to all its stakeholders.
Sometimes, its impossible to keep all your stakeholders happy, as Airbnb found right at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. But it seems that for Airbnb, knowing the promises they’ve pledged to keep has helped them to do the right things, in the right way, as far as they can.
And in the long run, this is what keeps the public wanting you to exist.
*Freeman, R. & Reed, Dl. (1983). Stockholders and Stakeholders: A New Perspective on Corporate Governance. California Management Review. 25. 10.2307/41165018.