A powerful way to bring the outside in: government and corporate affairs in 2024

You may be surprised at the growth opportunities Corporate Affairs can unlock

With increased scrutiny, rising expectations, changing societal norms, and growing politicisation of business, the role of corporate affairs has become ever more crucial and multifaceted. Your corporate affairs team can be central to your organisation’s ability to evolve, identify business opportunities, accelerate business transformation, outpace the market, and drive growth.

Whilst the most effective and efficient corporate affairs functions realise this potential by operating collaboratively across a business, many do not. The corporate affairs agenda should feed directly into the strategic ambitions of the business, but we know that many corporate affairs functions operate in isolation.

So, what can businesses do? We sat down with corporate affairs leaders to talk about their experiences, challenges, and tips for how to fulfil the full potential of your corporate affairs team.

Report highlights

There are now multiple roles that the corporate affairs team can play in a business: as a trusted strategic advisor to the C-suite, as a guardian of reputation, as an external ambassador, (ensuring external reality and stakeholder viewpoints are understood), as an internal facilitator and collaborator (enabling better alignment on business priorities), and as a horizon scanner (taking the longer-term view on risks and opportunities).

Corporate affairs teams that understand the views and expectations of target audiences should use this to inform and influence an organisation’s strategy and the direction of evolutionary travel.

“It is senior advisory. It is about inserting external reality and viewpoints into the decisions we are making. It is sometimes harder for others, who don’t have that external perspective, to see the wood for the trees.”

However, it’s not just about understanding the external context and driving a narrative that simply feeds into what a business thinks stakeholders want to hear from them. Many organisations see corporate affairs only as a mouthpiece. This leaves a gap between the external messaging of an organisation and the reality of what it stands for and delivers back to its customers. This in turn creates a lack of authenticity, which stakeholders quickly see through.

“Sometimes the communications function is almost like a waiter to the rest of the business, [with a mentality of] ‘we’re just going to order up a lot of side dishes and the communications team will just serve it up’, without any real strategic sense of why this is important.”

To be truly authentic, an organisation’s strategy needs to be not only stakeholder driven, but also brand led. This means balancing the external expectations and priorities with the internal reality and vision, and close any gaps between the two, while staying true to the brand.

“Corporate affairs and government relations shouldn’t just be about responding to what’s happening externally, it should also form an extension of the business strategy to seek competitive advantage.”

To achieve this level of impact in an organisation requires corporate affairs teams to reimagine their own roles. We think the opportunity lies in developing the corporate affairs expertise across the numerous roles that were outlined in our interviews, whether that’s by building / facilitating broader cross function connections, or by embedding social insights into strategy development, or as the horizon scanners seeking to maintain long-term business sustainability. Only then will corporate affairs fulfil its potential.

When they operate effectively across a business, and fulfil their numerous internal and external roles, corporate affairs teams play a fundamental role in helping businesses reimagine their opportunities, accelerating business transformation and driving business growth.

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