ReputationXchange http://www.reputationxchange.com CEO & Corporate Reputation Sat, 01 Aug 2015 20:55:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 Global Corporate Art Collections as Reputation-Makershttp://www.reputationxchange.com/global-corporate-art-collections-as-reputation-makers/ http://www.reputationxchange.com/global-corporate-art-collections-as-reputation-makers/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 20:55:09 +0000 http://www.reputationxchange.com/?p=17457 Can art shape your reputation? I had not thought about it but after reading this piece in the Financial Times, it absolutely makes sense. According to the article, institutions are increasingly selecting art not just as decoration but as reputation-maker and creativity-inspirer.  The article talks about companies…”that see...

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Can art shape your reputation? I had not thought about it but after reading this piece in the Financial Times, it absolutely makes sense. According to the article, institutions are increasingly selecting art not just as decoration but as reputation-maker and creativity-inspirer.  The article talks about companies…”that see art not just as a decorative necessity but also an opportunity to stimulate the thoughts of their employees, support artists through purchases of their work and, perhaps most importantly, to project their desired image to clients, staff and visitors.”

Companies, especially financial services ones, have extraordinary art collections and sponsor global art fairs like Frieze and Art Basel where they have the opportunity to invite clients and prospects as well as their own executives. Whereas golf events used to be the hot ticket to die for, a visit to a MoMA show or Tate Modern as a guest of a company sponsoring the exhibition can be exhilarating.

What surprised me most was that when companies buy art which today is most often contemporary, they are also sending a message to their stakeholders that they are cutting edge, innovative, creative, international. It does reflect kindly on the company as a lover of art and expression and supporter of artists. It signals a different kind of corporate responsibility in its support of the arts, artists and patronage. The recession no doubt curbed many companies enthusiasm and pocketbooks for expanding their art collections but since the recession eased, companies have been back at it again filling their lobbies or private gardens with their newest purchases. I should add that many of these companies also make these collections available to the public whether in the public space of their buildings or at community events they host. The idea of sharing art adds to a company’s public image-making and reputation for generosity.

The article also described a new book, Global Corporate Collections, published by Deutsche Standards, which showcases these incredible collections. It would be lovely to see.

I have to admit being enamored of some of the art I have seen in corporate headquarters when I visit various companies. It elevates everyone and everything around it. As a reputation-builder, not a bad thing. I kind of like it.

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Taming one’s inner incivilityhttp://www.reputationxchange.com/taming-ones-inner-incivility/ http://www.reputationxchange.com/taming-ones-inner-incivility/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 20:29:29 +0000 http://www.reputationxchange.com/?p=17445 I have been really bad about blogging. I was on vacation and then returned to a week of chaotic and intense report writing and analysis. I barely know what the weather was this past week but I have a reprieve right now and am excited...

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I have been really bad about blogging. I was on vacation and then returned to a week of chaotic and intense report writing and analysis. I barely know what the weather was this past week but I have a reprieve right now and am excited to get back to blogging. If that is what floats my boat, so be it. I am truly excited to be back.

I saved an article I read over the past 10 days about the blow up at media and pop culture guide Gawker. If you do not know what happened, it’s fairly simple. Several editors resigned due to the retraction of a post which outed an executive at a well-known publishing company. Gawker’s CEO Nick Denton made the decision to pull the article and as you can imagine, there was plenty of criticism about his decision in addition to posting the article in the first place.

Denton has decided to change the reputation of Gawker from a no-holds bar controversial publication for young, urban influential hipsters to one that even he has said has some “humanity” at its core. In fact, Denton has said that he expects Gawker to be “20% nicer.” Assume that means the 80% mean stays the same. In an article in PRWeek, Denton was interviewed about his change of heart about Gawker’s typically scandalizing content. When Denton was asked how he was managing the company’s reputation in light of the situation, he said:

“My memos all leak within minutes, so I write them for external as well as internal audiences. Our all-hands meetings are open to the world. Transcripts get out. Tuesday’s meeting was live-tweeted.

I believe every modern company will need to free its staff to make public criticism, even if that’s uncomfortable. Without open internal discussion – civil enough to include the digital introverts, too – there’s no possibility of evolution as an organization. A learning organization is necessarily messy to the outside world.”

They are on the look-out for a more “humane” editor and now have a temporary editor in charge. However, quite a job qualification but one way to shape reputation in this lawless world. Of course, the proof is to be seen how Gawker tames its inner incivility and adds more civility into its coverage. How do you measure something like that? Would be fun to ask readers to do the rating to see if they make progress. But as the new editor said, he’s hoping to have a peaceful, restful remainder of the summer. Probably should leave them alone for August.

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Customer Service Rises to the Occasionhttp://www.reputationxchange.com/customer-service-rises-to-the-occasion/ http://www.reputationxchange.com/customer-service-rises-to-the-occasion/#comments Sat, 18 Jul 2015 16:25:08 +0000 http://www.reputationxchange.com/?p=17440 I have been traveling a lot recently in Asia and Europe. Two incidents made me think twice about customer service and how it has evolved. The first happened while I was in Singapore staying at a very lovely hotel. After a long flight to get...

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I have been traveling a lot recently in Asia and Europe. Two incidents made me think twice about customer service and how it has evolved. The first happened while I was in Singapore staying at a very lovely hotel. After a long flight to get there from Australia, I arrived late. I was thrilled to see the hotel restaurant open so I could eat, relax and finish reading my book. I had lost my tablet somehow in security in Dubai during a layover and had to buy a hard copy book to read on the trip. The restaurant had a luxurious buffet of many cuisines and I quickly dashed over to the Indian food station and filled my plate. When I went to sign the bill, the waiter said that they only charged me for half the buffet because I ate so little. True, I am not a big eater but I certainly had a full plate of scrumptious food. The fact that they even noticed what I had eaten with all the hustle and bustle in the restaurant with so many vacationing families and couples partaking in the buffet surprised me. They even brought over a little lamp to my table to make sure I had enough light to read my book easily. Customer service supreme.

On this most recent trip this week, I slept on the plane overnight to Geneva from New York and arrived at my hotel early in the morning. They did not have my room available and I had to wait several hours in the lobby. Naturally I was not terribly happy about this because I was tired, cranky and sweaty. It must have been 90 degrees Fahrenheit in Switzerland this week. I reasoned with myself to be calm and patient, after all it is summer and lots of people are on holiday even though I wasn’t. When I got my room around 1:30pm, I was fairly exhausted and had to prep for my meeting that evening. When I checked out two days later, they told me they were not charging me for the room from the first evening because I had to wait. Now, they did not have to do that. I did sleep in the bed and use the room.

Having these two incidents back to back made me think that customer service has evolved to new heights that favor the traveler. Granted, these were excellent hotels who make their business to delight the business traveler but they did not have to up their reputations even higher than they already were. But everything is relative and I was extremely impressed.

On a whole other subject, as you may already know if you follow me on this blog, I am particularly interested in civility because it impacts a country’s reputation for good and bad. Many cities and countries are now instituting programs to train residents to be more civil. Our research on Civility in America has shown that America has a ways to go in getting its civility act to a better place. On one of my plane rides, I spotted this article that describes an interesting program in Bogota. The city is using street actors on their transport systems to reinforce the need for greater civility. The mayor is fed up with people riding the buses without paying (70,000 a day), dodging fares (8 people died in related-accidents last year), and women are sometimes harassed. They now have three acting troupes who are teaching manners to their populace. For example, the actors will stare at people who barge on at the last minute jostling everyone trying to exit to make them uncomfortable and think about what they have just done. Or they will act out what happens when people do not give a seat to a woman carrying an infant and the baby goes flying out of her arms. A former mayor even hired mimes to imitate jaywalkers and call attention to that danger. Smart thinking. Sounds like a good summer job to me. This is not the first time I’ve heard of a city adopting new ways to remind people to be civil. We have announcements in the NYC subway system asking people to give up their seats to the elderly and pregnant. Considering that the world will be largely urban in years to come, this all makes great sense to start now.

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Expiration Date for Companies Shortenhttp://www.reputationxchange.com/expiration-date-for-companies-shorten/ http://www.reputationxchange.com/expiration-date-for-companies-shorten/#comments Sat, 11 Jul 2015 18:18:01 +0000 http://www.reputationxchange.com/?p=17432 Startling finding: Company life spans are diminishing faster than ever. Here are a few daunting facts from Boston Consulting Group in their article ominously titled “Die Another Day”: Businesses are dying at a much younger age than the people who run them. Few companies make...

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Startling finding: Company life spans are diminishing faster than ever. Here are a few daunting facts from Boston Consulting Group in their article ominously titled “Die Another Day”:

  • Businesses are dying at a much younger age than the people who run them.
  • Few companies make it to their 50th or 60th anniversaries.
  • Companies are more likely to die at any point today. One-tenth of all companies fail each year, a four fold increase since 1965.
  • Dynamic industries like technology are perishing even more quickly.

BCG provides some advice for companies looking to hang on longer and make it to the next century.

  • Look for those early warning signals.  They say it is imperative to have an external orientation. I have to agree. Reputations can easily be upended by threats that are lurking in the shadows and rise up to surprise a company.  Keeping an eye out for changes in the industry, other regions and online are critical today to being agile.
  • Adapting to the current environment. Strategy and reputation must be aligned with what is happening now. Reputations must be fine-tuned to fit with consumers’ or customers’ present needs. The focus today on companies having a purpose is a good case in point. Values-based companies are rapidly gaining favor among the general public, particularly the younger generation.
  • Run and reinvent. By that they mean, keeping pace with the rapidly changing environment and reinventing oneself all the time. Sounds like a mad dash or else. Innovate or evaporate.

They have other smart strategies outlined in the article about focusing on information gathering, building a clear mission, stress-testing plans regularly, connectivity and baking sustainability into all business planning. All good.

However, these stats sound ominous for companies who intend to build organizations to last. How do you bake longevity into your organization? Is it even possible? How does a company stay on its toes all the time, 24/7? Are reputations built for the long-term or do they need to be revamped all the time too? After reading this article, I wonder how companies last beyond five years. We already know that the average CEO tenure is five to seven years. Sounds like companies are expiring as quickly as the bosses.

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Female CEO Reputation — Getting to the Tophttp://www.reputationxchange.com/female-ceo-reputation-getting-to-the-top/ http://www.reputationxchange.com/female-ceo-reputation-getting-to-the-top/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 21:00:39 +0000 http://www.reputationxchange.com/?p=17420 This week we at Weber Shandwick released new global research that found that relatively few global senior executives – 29% – have the desire to lead large companies. The truly disheartening news was that this figure was significantly less for female executives than for male...

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This week we at Weber Shandwick released new global research that found that relatively few global senior executives – 29% – have the desire to lead large companies. The truly disheartening news was that this figure was significantly less for female executives than for male executives (23% vs. 32%). On the other hand, the encouraging news was that when female executives work for a female CEO, women’s interest in becoming chief executive one day climbs to 29%. These findings make it clear that female CEOs have an opportunity to play an important role in breaking the glass ceiling for the next generation. A good enough reason if ever to get more women into that corner office if we want to fill that pipeline of talent.

Even more encouraging news was that the contributions of CEO reputation to both the company’s reputation and its market value are virtually identical for both male and female CEOs. So once we put women in that corner suite, the payoffs are equal in terms of return-on-reputation and financial yield.

Women CEOs also deliver another reputation premium. They are significantly more likely than male executives to say that their CEOs’ reputations influence them to remain at their companies (64% vs. 54%). CEO reputation influences women even more to stay at their jobs when their CEO is a woman (70%). CEO gender plays no such remarkable role in male executives’ decision to remain at their companies.

 

The CEO Reputation Influence

Male ExecutivesFemale ExecutivesFemale Executives Who Have a Female CEO
The reputation of CEO influences decision to remain at company54%64%70%

 

If you know me, I’ve been researching reputational issues for a long time now. And I’ve always seen in other research that women are more impacted by reputation of companies and CEOs than men. How to explain? Maybe women are more comfortable with the illusiveness of reputation where the ROI is often hard to come by and with their intuition and instinct about company and CEO character. Women seem to me to have a greater emotional connection and loyalty to the brands they like. Since reputation is never about the hard cold facts, perhaps women executives are more likely to go with their gut or the intangibles that comprise reputation and don’t fit neatly into a spreadsheet. I cannot say that I know the answer to why women are more affected by reputation but there’s a hint of truth in these suppositions.

Check out our report and our coverage in Fortune this week.

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Communications 101 for Execshttp://www.reputationxchange.com/communications-101-for-execs/ http://www.reputationxchange.com/communications-101-for-execs/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 19:40:01 +0000 http://www.reputationxchange.com/?p=17411 Super interesting article about what bothers employees most about their bosses. Worth a read because it is a reminder of how the most basic things make a difference. The survey among 1,000 employees was conducted by Interact/Harris Interactive and I read about it first on...

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Super interesting article about what bothers employees most about their bosses. Worth a read because it is a reminder of how the most basic things make a difference. The survey among 1,000 employees was conducted by Interact/Harris Interactive and I read about it first on this HBR blog post. It all gets down to communications 101. And it seems to me that management can get their employees more engaged if they just gave their employees more recognition for jobs well done, made directions clearer and knew a little bit more about their employees’ lives (including their names). I thought it was interesting that 52% of employees reported that they’d like to meet more with their bosses. The downside of email cultures is that face to face or telephone encounters with people’s supervisors have gone by the wayside. That is unfortunate and something everyone should watch out for.

Executive reputation is built on internal communications and connection so following the steps outlined in the HBR blog post are a must.

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CEO activism spreading….http://www.reputationxchange.com/ceo-activism-spreading/ http://www.reputationxchange.com/ceo-activism-spreading/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 19:45:27 +0000 http://www.reputationxchange.com/?p=17401 It seems that CEOs are inching towards the deeper end of the CEO activism spectrum. In my last post, I mentioned the emergence of this slow-boil trend but this was before the recent tragic event in the US that has prodded several CEOs to call for...

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It seems that CEOs are inching towards the deeper end of the CEO activism spectrum. In my last post, I mentioned the emergence of this slow-boil trend but this was before the recent tragic event in the US that has prodded several CEOs to call for the removal of the Confederate flag over the South Carolina capitol. We are seeing some Fortune 500 company CEOs ban selling the flag on their premises or online.

Fortune recently surveyed Fortune 500 CEOs about their agreement with the following statements below and here is what they found. Over one-half (52%) said it is important to take a stand on some hot-button public issues relative to somewhat fewer (48%) who say it is best to stick to profit first. Essentially it’s a complete divide. As you know from my last post, executives in our CEO reputation study cautioned against the appropriateness of taking a stand on political or policy issues by a wider margin.

As a CEO, it’s best to focus on issues that directly affect the bottom line, and avoid controversial public issues.

Vs.

As a CEO, it’s important to take a stand on some public issues.

I just returned from some markets in Asia Pacific and when I mentioned this growing trend on CEO activism, I did not get the sense that this pattern was as much of an issue. My sense is that company leaders in the US do not feel that the government will step in (due to polarization) and therefore they need to be more proactive about taking a stand on these types of issues.

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Guardrails for CEO Activistshttp://www.reputationxchange.com/guardrails-for-ceo-activists/ http://www.reputationxchange.com/guardrails-for-ceo-activists/#comments Sun, 21 Jun 2015 10:14:14 +0000 http://www.reputationxchange.com/?p=17391 Is CEO activism the wave of the future? Salesforce CEO Marc Benifoff thinks so. Benioff believes that CEOs as a group are becoming more socially and politically active. “[T]here is a third [political] party emerging in this country,” he recently opined, “which is the party...

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Is CEO activism the wave of the future? Salesforce CEO Marc Benifoff thinks so.

Benioff believes that CEOs as a group are becoming more socially and politically active. “[T]here is a third [political] party emerging in this country,” he recently opined, “which is the party of CEOs.”

Benioff made this comment shortly after several corporate leaders publicly and vociferously objected to the proposed Indiana Religious Freedom law that arguably allowed businesses to deny service to same sex couples. Benioff believes that such outspokenness by CEOs is a trend and that we can expect more CEOs to be similarly outspoken on other issues in the future.

If Benioff is right, what are the consequences for business? Our recent research on CEO reputation touched on the prospect of increased CEO activism. This being the case I believe it desirable to set up some guardrails for CEOs and their teams who wish to go down the road of being outspoken about social and political issues of the day.

We had asked global business executives in 19 markets about CEOs commenting upon public policy or political issues. Executives were divided about CEOs taking such positions. Although 36% said it was important, one out of two — 48% — said it was inappropriate.

In contrast, when it came to whether CEOs should take a stand on community or socially responsible issues, executives were far more positive. They were more likely to say that it was appropriate and important for CEOs to do so.

Here’s the rub. A fine line exists between a political issue on one hand and a socially responsible one on the other. I dare say where to draw such a line is not something upon which everyone would agree. One person’s pleasure is another’s pain – so, the old saying goes – and a CEO who makes such a distinction does so at some risk.

So it is not surprising that there is as of yet no avalanche of CEOs taking on such hot button issues as climate change, immigration, same-sex marriage, gun control, gender equality, human trafficking, and racism. The pool of activist CEOs remains very much in the minority. Even so, as the opposition to the Indiana Religious Freedom law and Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schulz’s ill-fated stand on Race Together seem to indicate, something is afoot. As Benioff predicts, more and more CEOs may well be taking stands on the issues of the day.

So, for any CEO who wishes to be outspoken about political and social issues, here are some best practices worth considering that may lessen the risk of being outspoken about potentially sensitive topics. I say risk because one can never reliably expect broad communal consensus on such issues, and in the absence of such consensus, such stands may not necessarily promote shareholders’ best interests:

  1. Establish a link between the issue and company priorities or values. For a CEO’s activism to enjoy credibility and rally support, the CEO should articulate why he or she is personally involved and outspoken on a topic. The CEO should explain, if possible, how the issue impacts the company’s business and/or its stakeholders as well as society at large. At all times, the CEO’s stand should demonstrably reflect the company’s values.
  1. Fully commit time and resources. Expect that CEO activism will take up valuable executive time and cost money. The CEO will find himself or herself attending meeting after meeting to hash out the pros and cons of taking a stance. The return on investment will have to be measured. Remarks to various groups and the media will have to be flushed out and criticism anticipated. And of course, employee and customer attitudes will need to be fully vetted. Research is recommended.
  1. Design a detailed implementation strategy before starting. CEO activism requires detailed crisis scenario planning. Just as politicians have to test out their every move, so will CEO activists — especially because most CEOs will be less familiar with the political style advocacy which typically is required to promote social and political positions.
  1. Get the board on board. The CEO may be in position to make use of his or her bully pulpit to go activist, but the CEO must never forget that that pulpit is built upon a business foundation and subject to business restraints. The CEO must accordingly fully apprise the board of the reasons behind the initiative, the potential risks and the reasons why the CEO sees himself or herself having to enter the public arena.
  1. Conduct a risk benefit analysis on the effects on the company’s reputation. CEOs must not forget that what they do and what they say, no matter how qualified or conditioned, reflects on their companies. When they go public, CEOs are alter- egos for their companies. Dan Cathy, CEO of the restaurant chain Chick-fil-a, proved this very point. He publicly voiced his personal opposition to same sex marriage, stating that gay marriage was inviting “God’s judgment on our nation.” Although speaking out on personal grounds, Chick-fil-a restaurants became a lightening rod for activists in favor of and not in favor of the issue. Since CEOs are inextricably tied to their organization’s reputation, for a CEO to take a personal stand that does not impact a company’s reputation is next to impossible. With social media so ubiquitous, the boundaries between CEOs’ personal and professional opinions are non-existent.
  1. Have a crisis preparedness plan for a potential social media firestorm. Social media and the 24/7 news cycle require companies to operate at nano-speed. Media inquiries, Facebook and Twitter activity, social flash protests, employee questions and NGO backlash are all but guaranteed when CEOs bump up against politically-charged and politically-polarized issues. CEOs should expect that their social media teams will be on the front lines and their teams need to be ready for 24/7 activity.
  1. Develop a thick skin. Expect the pitchforks to come out. Genuine support and admiration for a CEO’s activism may arise, but there are always two (or more) points of view to every controversy. Criticism is inevitable and will inevitably sting. Learning how not to flinch is critical.

 

[Here are some excellent sources to read that have covered the CEO activism trend and help demonstrate that the idea is gaining traction. Well worth your time.]

https://hbr.org/2015/03/starbucks-race-together-campaign-and-the-upside-of-ceo-activism

https://hbr.org/2015/05/how-involved-should-ceos-be-in-social-causes?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2015-04-02/ceo-activism-could-it-backfire-

 

 

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Reputation on my mindhttp://www.reputationxchange.com/reputation-on-my-mind-2/ http://www.reputationxchange.com/reputation-on-my-mind-2/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 13:36:21 +0000 http://www.reputationxchange.com/?p=17383 Love this quote from the CEO of Dow, Andrew Liveris. Reputation is taking up more and more of a CEO’s preoccupation. Nice to see it confirmed at the highest level.   “The one thing that I think is a common to that change is how...

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Love this quote from the CEO of Dow, Andrew Liveris. Reputation is taking up more and more of a CEO’s preoccupation. Nice to see it confirmed at the highest level.

 

“The one thing that I think is a common to that change is how much overlapping circles are now becoming a new reality for the CEO. Overlapping circle number one: strategy and operations. I’d say ten years ago, that was 90 percent of the job. But overlapping circle number two, the one that’s becoming more and more important, is the company’s reputation. Now, one would always say that’s been part of the CEO’s tenure. But now, the judge, the jury, the trial, the media, the speed of live, the world of social media—everything you do is scrutinized. Every word you utter, every place you go, what you do, how you do it. You have to have this ability to pivot with the constituency that’s out there needing to know more about your enterprise, whether that’s a government, whether it’s your communities. We’ve got lots of customers: suppliers, value chains, and partners. We’ve got lots of joint ventures. The CEO has to be ubiquitous and in person.”

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A reputation for incivility about to changehttp://www.reputationxchange.com/a-reputation-for-incivility-about-to-change/ http://www.reputationxchange.com/a-reputation-for-incivility-about-to-change/#comments Sat, 13 Jun 2015 09:58:41 +0000 http://www.reputationxchange.com/?p=17372 I was intrigued to see this article about France’s multimillion-euro tourist investment in making the country more welcoming or having a more “civil reputation.” France realized that in order to increase tourism to the country and insure that more jobs are available, they’d have to insure...

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I was intrigued to see this article about France’s multimillion-euro tourist investment in making the country more welcoming or having a more “civil reputation.” France realized that in order to increase tourism to the country and insure that more jobs are available, they’d have to insure that visitors left feeling treated well. Several studies show that visitors are less than impressed with the country’s service reputation and satisfaction ratings were 30 per cent below the European average in terms of price-quality ratio. As the article says, “The TripAdvisor website found foreigners voted Paris the rudest city in Europe, while other researchers have reported that visitors thought it had the least friendly locals, the most unpleasant taxi drivers and the most aggressive waiters.”

Even when a politeness manual for service workers and smile ambassadors were instituted a few years ago, France’s uncivil reputation was not curbed. The French foreign ministry is now getting serious and as part of its new civility program being launched this fall, is going to fast track visas and add signs in the airports welcoming visitors.

Ironically, the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, was quite miffed when he learned that no French restaurant made it into the top 10 Restaurant Magazine’s World’s 50 Best Restaurant list. He responded to this indignity by calling it  “a perfidious Anglo-Saxon attempt to bad-mouth its gastronomy.” Now, I would not exactly call that a civil accusation. France has its work cut out for itself.

At Weber Shandwick, we’ve examined the issue of civility in America for years now. We have not extended it to countries around the world but it is starting to sound like that might not be a bad idea.

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