There is always time for a first when it comes to CEO Activism. First we had the CEOs in opposition to the anti LGBT laws in 2016. Then we had CEOs against the Trump ban on immigration. Then we had the advertisers pulling ads from Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor, a favorite station of the president’s. And most recently some CEOs protested against the climate change withdrawal from the Paris Accord. All of these are part of an evolution of how business is being held accountable to corporate values and standing up for principles that are the foundation of corporate behavior. Then this week we saw the Reebok “flow chart” which criticizes President Trump’s comment about what great shape French President Macron’s wife is in during the presidential visit to Paris and Reebok jumps on this ill-advised statement to say that they take offense. After all Reebok is all about the women’s fitness Continue reading "A radical kind of brand activism"
Gosh, it’s been a while since I posted. It’s been a nonstop quarter and I feel like I can breathe this weekend. So I thought I’d mention a few things that have been on my radar reputation-wise. First, Harris Poll RQ released their 2017 corporate reputation study that included some interesting metrics. First, they find that crisis in one company does not necessarily infect other companies in the same industry. Thus, a company that has lost reputational standing in the financial services industry does not necessarily transfer its problems to other industry peers. That’s good news. The Harris Poll analysts also revealed that some companies are more liked (have higher RQs) by Republicans than Democrats. The polarization that exists today carries itself into reputational favorability among the public. This is notable because more CEOs are making their positions known on hot-button societal issues. So it makes sense for CEOs to
Continue reading "Reputation Tidbits"
Here we are at a most pivotal point in America’s history. Donald Trump, perhaps one of the most surprising people to have ever been elected President of the United States, will soon be inaugurated. For better or worse, the reputation of this nation hangs in the balance. Will America’s reputation be burnished or burned? Hard to say just yet. But one thing is abundantly clear. President Trump is likely to be a sharply different type of President than we are used to. His words and deeds will undoubtedly impact us not just during the next few years, but for years to come. As a businessman, and as someone who has appointed numerous other business people to hold significant posts in his administration, his words and deeds will also impact the reputation of American business and business leaders. I must confess that as I pull together my reputation prognostications for 2017, Continue reading "Reputation Trends for 2017"
As I was preparing for a recent presentation on trends in the corporate world, I came across this quote from Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. The article was about how he showed up in Rufus King Park in Jamaica, Queens with rapper Common to nudge people to get out and vote. Schultz made the point that the only way we can get over the dysfunction in American government today is if we all go out and vote in this upcoming election. I have to agree with him that people must take advantage of their stake in government and make their opinions known. What struck me in the article, however, was this simple statement: “We really think of Starbucks as a platform.” He could not be more right. We’ve heard a lot of talk this past year about purpose-driven companies but I think that Schultz’s vision of taking a company and turning Continue reading "Company as Platform"
One of the slides we always use in presentations on corporate reputation has to do with the many target audiences who have a “stake” in how a company is perceived. Every year it seems that the list grows longer and every year it seems that they are all equally influential. Although it was once possible to neglect some for others, it no longer seems the case. The top tier is now the all-tier. Everyone is important when it comes to corporate reputation. One of the stakeholder groups that often does not get written into many reputation stakeholder lists is the clergy. And yet, they influence congregations and disseminate talking points like no one else. After all, they have a captive audience. Therefore it was good to see a recent release from the PewResearchCenter that reports that 64% of those attending religious services have heard clergy speak about one of six social issues (religious
Continue reading "Reputation Influencer Not to Overlook"
We just released new research with KRC Research on CEO activism and I want to share some of the findings here. I also wrote a piece in Harvard Business Review that you might find interesting. As a long-time observer of CEO trends, we wanted to get a good read on this new dynamic and its impact on reputation. To be sure, CEO activism has at times been very effective. In the past year or so, a number of CEOs have spoken out about social and environmental issues such as climate change, income fairness, same-sex marriage, immigration, gun control and discrimination – all issues that are not necessarily tied to the bottom line. Yet, we also learned that there are some risks that should be carefully considered. Here are the key findings.
- First, nearly 40% of Americans believe that CEOs have a responsibility to speak out on hot-button social issues. However, the Continue reading "Risks and Rewards of CEO Activism"
I came across this interesting chart in a report by the Harris Poll 2016 about which potential scenarios are most damaging to reputation, according to the American public. The results make clear that the greatest threat to corporate reputation is being dishonest, unethical and hiding the truth. Lack of disclosure is a reputation-killer. A full 80% of respondents indicate that not telling the whole truth about products/services and intentionally lying on the part of leadership will lead to severe reputation harm. Third on the list of reputation-busters is data breaches which at this point is almost an everyday affair. This finding underscores how important privacy is to Americans and how much citizens expect companies today to be prepared for the inevitable or pay the price. I was surprised that hearing bad financial news was not higher on the list but clearly we are all immune to hearing that financial performance is not what was expected.
Continue reading "Reputational Threats"