Of all the polls we take of our readers, CE’s corporate reputation survey generates the most interest outside the magazine. Last year, survey findings appeared in such news sources as the Orange County Register and the Hartford Courant. Sure, business leaders are keenly interested in reputation; it’s their job to worry about such things. But why would anyone else care? While the subject doesn’t exactly push USC football off the front pages, people everywhere seem concerned about the moral and ethical dimension of their institutions, business included.
Nor is this confined to the U.S. Recently London’s Daily Telegraph published a widely watched feature on the 100 best firms to work for in
This poses a challenge to CEOs. In an increasingly cynical age, how do you develop and protect your company’s reputation? Should you bother? A recent New York Times Magazine story called attention to the growing American habit of litigating everyday disputes, however trivial, which formerly were resolved directly between parties themselves. When people cease to share a common set of values they look to the courts to resolve even the most garden variety tiffs. But what happens, asked the Times, when people start to lose faith in the courts as well?
Cynicism about institutions is not confined to one region. Presidents in both the
Let’s face it. People sense a moral vacuum, and are not reassured by political leadership. In an age when there appear to be fewer social guard rails defining acceptable social behavior, people grasp at anything. In this environment CEOs must rethink their social standings and corporate reputations and how to secure them. This is both an opportunity and a challenge to business leaders everywhere.