Notes:Reputation Laundering & CEO-NGO Response

October 22, 2011

Notes:Reputation Laundering & CEO-NGO Response

  I just recently saw the term “reputation laundering” in an article I was reading on the plane (which is where I seem to spend alot of time these days). I always like to mention new phrases that involve the word reputation. It is one of my favorite pursuits (which is pretty pathetic if you think too much about it). So I went to search for the term to find the article again and came across over six thousand mentions of the term.  The Guardian seemed most closely associated with the term because of their reporting on the practice in the UK, so they say.  What is it? It is the practice by institutions or individuals to disguise the source behind wrong-doing. Not a good thing. Just thought I’d call attention to the phrase in case anyone else found it interesting.
On another note, a colleague sent me an example of reputation response and recovery (thanks J). It an interesting interchange from the CEO of Deutsche Bank. Apparently Foodwatch approached Germany’s largest bank to warn them about the bank’s speculation in the agricultural market that they said was increasing hunger and poverty worldwide. Now what was different here is that the playbook changed. The CEO — Josef Ackermann — rarely responds to these types of criticisms.  At first, the bank rejected the accusations in Foodwatch’s report and petition. But in short order, the CEO responded in a letter to the head of Foodwatch by saying he shared their concern and would review the bank’s activities in the trading of agricultural commodities: “I share your sadness that so many people on our planet continue to live in poverty and must go hungry.” And Ackermann wrote in his letter:

“No business is worth risking the reputation of Deutsche Bank.”

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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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