As the world grapples with its most significant issues ever, corporate affairs professionals are a critical link between company leaders and their key stakeholders. In a fast-moving environment where news can flash around the globe in a heartbeat, it’s more important than ever to ensure the right messages are being heard. The ability to deliver strategic value is increasingly a career hallmark of those working in the field.

It’s no longer enough to have a CV showreel of creative events, media placements and celebrity endorsements to land a role in this discipline. The most valuable skills in the profession are now in strategy development and business understanding, supported by excellent diplomatic and influencing capabilities. These qualities are essential to build trust among a broad range of business partners and demonstrate that Corporate Affairs’ contribution is beyond its departmental remit, spanning the entire organisation.

Our interviews with corporate affairs directors revealed a growing emphasis on building broader societal commitment as a key factor to the success of their businesses. This has been driven by a new generation of employees that are increasingly seeking companies to be ethical and responsible, and have a greater sense of shared purpose with society at large.

In this context, it is imperative that corporate affairs leaders have the courage to be seen as independent voices of truth, to articulate and challenge commercial priorities – and to provide insight into stakeholder perceptions so that commercial decision makers can assess the risk and reputational impact of those decisions. It is also crucial that they have a robust and dependable source of stakeholder intelligence, providing them with the data they need to support their judgements at board level.