Principles as Important as Products? Corporate Governance is a Growing Reputation Factor

Thousands of British consumers consider corporate governance and citizenship to be more important measures of reputation than leadership, innovation and financial performance.

Corporate governance is having a greater impact on business reputation than ever before, a new survey finds, reinforcing the notion that CEOs should be just as concerned about rising populism as politicians.

After speaking to more than 35,000 UK citizens, the Reputation Institute discovered that a companies’ products and services were still regarded as the top contributor to its reputation, comprising 19.7%, up 1.4 percentage points from a year earlier.

But corporate governance came in at a close second, rising 1.5 percentage points to 17.2%, followed by corporate citizenship, which rose 1.3% to 15.8%. Those increases came at the expense of innovation, leadership and corporate performance, which all went backward.

“The populist sentiment of 2016 that led to the Brexit vote and the election of President Trump has also impacted corporate reputation,” the Institute’s managing director, James Bickford said. “People want to feel they are being treated with authenticity, transparency and fairness by the corporates they are spending their money with.”

The results come after separate polls in the U.S. found that trust in the institutions of government and business has diminished rapidly amid fears from large portions of the population that they have been left behind by globalization. The divisive nature of global politics also has put many CEOs’ views in the spotlight, bringing the risk of reputational damage, should they anger a large portion of their customer base.


According to a survey of 23,633 American adults conducted in November and December by Harris Poll, a startling 50% thought CEOs had a “bad reputation”. What’s more, only a quarter thought they had a “good” reputation, while the rest sat on the fence.

Even so, this latest British survey indicated that companies weren’t communicating their corporate governance achievements very clearly, with 67% and 71% of respondents, respectively, either “unsure” or “neutral” on what UK companies were doing in this regard.

Some companies appear to be doing a better job than others. Amazon scored highly in Harris Poll’s reputation rankings, followed by Wegmans, Publix Super Markets, Johnson & Johnson and Apple.

British companies selected by the public as the most reputable in the Reputation Institute’s poll included Dyson, Aston Martin, Lego, Michelin and Sony. Interestingly, Samsung managed to keep its reputation largely intact, despite having to recall its fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 smartphone.

The British public is now 6% more likely to recommend a Samsung product than they were a year ago, highlighting the value of a good crisis-management strategy. “Having invested heavily in building their reputation prior to the crisis, taking early responsibility and a financial hit to compensate affected customers, the company has weathered the storm brilliantly in the UK,” Bickford said.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    We are in a period of rapid change. Customer needs, technologies, competitors and internal capabilities require companies to review and update their strategies for the new realities. In this workshop, strategy experts Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison will show you a systematic approach to strategic planning to help you refine or redefine your business strategy and approach including:

    • Learn what you need to know to develop an effective strategic plan. Put the right players on the strategic planning team.
    • Develop strategies that leverage your company’s unique position in the marketplace. Lift your management team beyond “business as usual” thought processes and activities.
    • Translate your strategies into action. Achieve your vision for success and generate superior financial results.
    • Identify exactly what you need to do now to position your company for future success.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.