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Topics: Organizational Culture, Stakeholder Management
Stakeholders
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Gretchen Goettl Program Manager| CA Dept of Water Resources - State of California Auburn, Ca, USA
My organization has recently required us to stop using the term Stakeholder since it is offensive to Native Americans. Does anyone have a good all-encompassing term we can use instead? I teach an introduction PM class for my organization and want to use a term that fits both our policy and PMI.
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Keith Novak Tukwila, Wa, USA
I suppose you could use the legal term "affected parties".
I'm curious why it's considered offensive since it's a person who has a stake (bet) in some undecided outcome. It appears one of those terms that seem offensive because the word root sounds like something entirely unrelated.
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Abolfazl Yousefi Darestani Manager, Quality and Continuous Improvement| Hörmann-TNR Industrial Doors Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
I have not heard that!
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Kiron Bondale
Community Champion
Mentor| World Class Productivity Inc. Welland, Ontario, Canada
Here is an article on the concern: https://www.ictinc.ca/blog/9-terms-to-avoi...%80%A6%E2%80%9D

Either interested parties or rights-holders might be a more suitable term in such cases.

Kiron
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2 replies by Basavaraj Patil and Warren Simon
May 12, 2022 6:16 AM
Basavaraj Patil
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Agree. 'Interested parties' is being used as an equivalent
May 12, 2022 10:37 AM
Warren Simon
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Is this the only instance of this issue? If so, it's certainly a one-off. I am absolutely all for inclusion and decreasing as much as possible anything that is derogatory or negative based on culture, gender, everything. But this is just so ... out there. Per the article, if you are working in that field directly (or indirectly) with indigenous people, then yes it's an issue. But I'd venture to say that 99.999+% of us are not, and even for those of us who are, are the indigenous people with whom you are working even aware of this "slight". I'm sorry, but I think this is going overboard.

"Affected Party" or "Interested Party". Who's to say that someone won't take offense at the word "party" for ... I don't know what reason? And the list goes on ... literally endlessly.

Trying sincerely not to be offensive, but sometimes things just get overdone or overthought.
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Verónica Elizabeth Pozo Ruiz
Community Champion
RYLAI Access Control Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
Maybe you can mention them as: "individuals interested in the project".
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1 reply by Stéphane Parent
May 12, 2022 9:41 AM
Stéphane Parent
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It's not always individuals, Verónica. It could be groups, associations, companies, ...
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Thomas Walenta Global Project Economy Expert| self Hackenheim, Germany
Gretchen,

as a German and being a bit older, I do sometimes shudder when reading about this kind of politicalisation of language. I assume it born out of the fear to be sued, not out of respect or fairness. But it is what it is.

As Kiron quoted, right-holders might be such a replacement term. But a right is just a specific stake in my understanding, like a general interest, or the future possibility to be affected? What if you do not yet know about a right you have?

And, what if your rights do not matter much, think about about stakeholders in a war, the humans on the side of the enemy have stakes but not rights. If we reduce people to right-holders and want to limit their rights - like in a layoff program- we loose sight to the complete human being.

Rights can be disputed and are subject to interpretation (as you just see with abortion rights), stakes stick.

BTW - do not think PMI has a stance on that yet, think you are free to find a solution your stakeholder's problem.

In Germany, I would engage with those stakeholders, explain the problem and see if there is a misunderstanding on their side and negotiate with them what stakeholders mean to both of us.


Thomas
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Basavaraj Patil Project Manager| Dynamatic Technologies Ltd Bangalore, Karnataka, India
May 11, 2022 5:04 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
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Here is an article on the concern: https://www.ictinc.ca/blog/9-terms-to-avoi...%80%A6%E2%80%9D

Either interested parties or rights-holders might be a more suitable term in such cases.

Kiron
Agree. 'Interested parties' is being used as an equivalent
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Stéphane Parent Self Employed / Semi-retired| Leader Maker Prince Edward Island, Canada
May 11, 2022 6:32 PM
Replying to Verónica Elizabeth Pozo Ruiz
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Maybe you can mention them as: "individuals interested in the project".
It's not always individuals, Verónica. It could be groups, associations, companies, ...
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Stéphane Parent Self Employed / Semi-retired| Leader Maker Prince Edward Island, Canada
I prefer Keith's "affected party" over "interested party". I could be interested in a project in which I have absolutely no stake.
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Warren Simon Program Manager| DoD Baltimore, Md, USA
May 11, 2022 5:04 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
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Here is an article on the concern: https://www.ictinc.ca/blog/9-terms-to-avoi...%80%A6%E2%80%9D

Either interested parties or rights-holders might be a more suitable term in such cases.

Kiron
Is this the only instance of this issue? If so, it's certainly a one-off. I am absolutely all for inclusion and decreasing as much as possible anything that is derogatory or negative based on culture, gender, everything. But this is just so ... out there. Per the article, if you are working in that field directly (or indirectly) with indigenous people, then yes it's an issue. But I'd venture to say that 99.999+% of us are not, and even for those of us who are, are the indigenous people with whom you are working even aware of this "slight". I'm sorry, but I think this is going overboard.

"Affected Party" or "Interested Party". Who's to say that someone won't take offense at the word "party" for ... I don't know what reason? And the list goes on ... literally endlessly.

Trying sincerely not to be offensive, but sometimes things just get overdone or overthought.
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1 reply by Stéphane Parent
May 12, 2022 11:20 AM
Stéphane Parent
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The problem, Warren, is that a lot of weight is put on words. After all, "the pen is mightier than the sword."

While you may not be an "affected party" to this issue, it behooves us to think and feel with more than just our personal baggage. Indigenous people around the world have been victimized over the centuries through colonial systems. Sometimes reconciliation starts with how we talk and how we write.
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Stéphane Parent Self Employed / Semi-retired| Leader Maker Prince Edward Island, Canada
May 12, 2022 10:37 AM
Replying to Warren Simon
...
Is this the only instance of this issue? If so, it's certainly a one-off. I am absolutely all for inclusion and decreasing as much as possible anything that is derogatory or negative based on culture, gender, everything. But this is just so ... out there. Per the article, if you are working in that field directly (or indirectly) with indigenous people, then yes it's an issue. But I'd venture to say that 99.999+% of us are not, and even for those of us who are, are the indigenous people with whom you are working even aware of this "slight". I'm sorry, but I think this is going overboard.

"Affected Party" or "Interested Party". Who's to say that someone won't take offense at the word "party" for ... I don't know what reason? And the list goes on ... literally endlessly.

Trying sincerely not to be offensive, but sometimes things just get overdone or overthought.
The problem, Warren, is that a lot of weight is put on words. After all, "the pen is mightier than the sword."

While you may not be an "affected party" to this issue, it behooves us to think and feel with more than just our personal baggage. Indigenous people around the world have been victimized over the centuries through colonial systems. Sometimes reconciliation starts with how we talk and how we write.
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1 reply by Melinda Lee
Jun 07, 2024 10:04 AM
Melinda Lee
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Agree. I recognize this is a 2 year old conversation but this recently came up in my work with an international education foundation.

Words with an originating context and evolve into a different or general modern context are worth interrogating.

I'd be interested in knowing if PMI has considered this as part of their commitment to DEI and perhaps, as a global industry leader in an industry that heavily uses the term. Do we know if there is someone designated as a primary contact for such inquiries? https://www.pmi.org/about/diversity-equity-and-inclusion
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