December 09, 2008

The Financial Times recently had two great articles that were totally meant for me.  They are related to reputation and I was very encouraged. Amazing what I find exciting. First, I learned that 17 companies are working with the Ethisphere Institute to commit to key principles to rebuild trust in corporate behavior. The principles that these well-known companies (GE, Wal-Mart, PepsiCo, Dell, Accenture) are signing on for include legal compliance, transparency, avoiding conflict of interests and accountability. The voluntary initiative is called the Business Ethics Leadership Alliance and their mission is to reinforce the standards of ethics and fortify confidence in business worldwide.   part of the agreement, the companies have to submit to regular independent audits. Ethisphere’s own reputation has grown rapidly in recent years and getting on their list of the most ethical companies is quite a feat.  Their standards are quite rigorous. I think this is a step in the right direction for building corporate credibility in corporate America and good to see that there is agreement that reputations are repairable.  Second, I learned that Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch top executives are rejecting bonuses this year. That too is a wise move. What fascinated me, however, was the following edit from Morgan Stanley which was reported in the FT: “Morgan Stanley also became the first large US bank to announce that employees would be forced to pay back some of their bonuses if they caused significant losses, or reputational harm, to the company.”  Reputational harm deserves more than returning a bonus…in some cases it should mean cause for losing a job. Bonuses are easily redeemable, reputation is not.

 

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

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