Thursday, July 09, 2009


Seems we have a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum here.

Corporations are spending less on marketing in this turbulent economy, both inside and outside the organization, at a time when the collective reputation of corporate America has fallen to its lowest point in ten years, according to Harris Interactive’s 2008 Corporate Reputation Quotient Survey. And, meanwhile, misconduct within the corporation remains extremely high. Nearly half of the 5,000 employees in KPMG’s 2008-09 Integrity Survey say they have observed wrongdoing which, if reported, could cause a serious breach in public trust.

To move the needle back, corporations should be listening to their customers and employees via organized programs of surveys, meetings, online discussions and other techniques to better understand what their constituents need from leadership. Getting the messages right may be more than half the battle. Getting the message and the substance right may help turn this problem around.

For example, according to the Integrity Survey, the percentage of employee respondents who reported working in an environment in which people feel motivated and empowered to do the right thing doubles from 43 percent to 90 percent where there are comprehensive ethics and compliance programs.

A further example: Harris reports that 90 percent of Americans give some consideration to sustainable business practices when purchasing a company’s products or services.

To bring this full circle, another recent study, carried out for the Institute for Public Relations by Professors Lan Ni and Robert L. Heath at the University of Houston, shows that “high performance and high integrity are good for the bottom line.” The study cites corporate social responsibility as a key management tool, and suggests implementation through the “triple bottom line (financial, social and environmental).”

Technorati Tags: economy, corporate America, Harris Interactive, KPMG, leadership, Institute for Public Relations , Professor Lan Ni, Professor Robert L. Heath, corporate social responsibility, business, communications, public relations


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