Back in the saddle

August 03, 2019

Back in the saddle


By the way, I am back writing my blog. I’ve missed the experience for the past year or so and decided over my vacation this summer to resume what I started over a decade ago. I hope that my followers will give me a second chance for ignoring reputationXchange over the past year or so and that any newcomers will enjoy my musings on reputation as I start up once again. Nice to be back in the saddle.

What has consumed me over the past few years has been a focus on CEO activism and the growing intersection of business and politics. At Weber Shandwick, we started looking into CEO activism just about before anyone. It would be safe to say, we started back in 2015.  Now we have an entire collection of research investigations and analyses on how leaders and companies have responded to some of the most contentious issues of the day. Here is the link on the Weber Shandwick site that holds all that information.

Since this post is more of a Welcome Back note, I wanted to also mention our terrific and one of a kind research into employee activism, a trend that is only just gathering steam. We saw it coming and jumped right in to make sure we could bring some insights and counsel to companies worrying about how they would deal with issues when faced with employee uprisings. Although employee activism began in the tech sector (i.e., #Googlewalkout) like most things, we soon saw the furniture retailer Wayfair facing employee protests over their selling of merchandise to BCFS, a government contractor that oversees the immigrant camps along the southern border. If you drill down into our research, 38% of U.S. employees have spoken up about their employers on societal issues and when you just look at Millennial employees, the numbers rise to a large 48%. AND employee activism is just getting started. So hold on to your smartphones because this movement is on the march.

All of this activism impacts reputation. Consumers and potential talent are aware of companies and CEOs who speak up or remain silent on hot-button social issues. Reputations rise and fall depending on whether a company speaks out on immigration, LGBT issues, gender pay issues, diversity and inclusion, and the list goes on. I will do my best to record how companies are managing this new wave of criticism and praise. Just so you know, there’s hardly a win win whether you speak up or remain silent. Those days are over when the playbooks were in black and white.

Come look me up again when you have a chance. Thanks for reading.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

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 corporate and CEO reputations.

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