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Learning from Stakeholder Engagement at Canadian Blood Services
Friday, October 14th, 2011

I just arrived back from a term position at Canadian Blood Services (CBS), where I was on loan from Ascentum for a little over five months. Submerged in the world of blood and blood products, not only did I learn a great deal about the organization, but I became further versed in the realm of stakeholder relations, one of Ascentum’s main service offerings.

CBS is a prime example of how an organization can use stakeholder engagement to further advance its goals, while ensuring that all players are involved in the decision-making process. Designated as a Stakeholder Relations / Communications Specialist, my role included managing the various committees CBS has for gaining input on the blood system. The two main committee groups I helped oversee were the seven Regional Liaison Committees (RLCs) and the National Liaison Committee (NLC).

Regional Liaison Committee membership includes the Regional Director, donors, recipients, volunteers, hospital partners, clinic organizers, patient groups and sponsors. There are seven RLCs held across Canada and they each convene three times per year to discuss hot issues pertaining to the blood system. Equipped with knowledge acquired from meetings, RLC members are also responsible for assisting CBS in taking the issues to other stakeholders and citizens in their regions.

The National Liaison Committee is similar to the RLC in that it consists of recipient, patient and donor groups, volunteers and hospital partners. However, it is at a level higher in the sense that it is comprised of one representative from each RLC and members from national organizations, such as consumer groups. This Committee meets twice per year and on the second day of the meeting scheduled in the fall, the Committee has a chance to meet with the full CBS Board of Directors and raise any issues which are bubbling at the regional level and within their stakeholder groups.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to organize and sit in on the fall NLC meeting. On the second day, members were asked to present to the Board why they felt this committee was important to them.  One member summed up his experience on the committee as follows:  “It’s made me feel like I have part ownership in the Canadian blood system.  It reconfirms my commitment as a donor, as a recruiter of donors and as an advocate in my community for CBS.”

This is just one example of how an organization has made it a priority to consult with its stakeholders on key issues affecting its growth and direction. I feel grateful that I was able to play a part in connecting CBS with the stakeholders that need to be engaged. Now that I am once again part of the Ascentum team, I will strive to blend my newfound stakeholder relations’ knowledge into my future assignments.

– Cassandra Tavares –

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