CEO’s reputation has the most influence on customers

More
than a third of British business link a CEO’s personal reputation with the
‘well being’ of the corporate brand. 

A
survey of more than 800 chief executive officers and other executives in Europe
and North America by global communications firm Hill and Knowlton, finds that
corporate reputation management has risen up the boardroom agenda.

Senior
executives rank sales growth, promoting transactions and strategic partnerships
and recruiting and retaining employees as the three most important business
objectives achieved through corporate reputation.   

Business
leaders view customers as having the most important influence on reputation –
employees, shareholders, government and analysts have all declined in relative
importance over the course of the year reflecting priorities in difficult
trading conditions. Nearly all of UK and US companies (98 per cent and 93 per
cent respectively) cite the ‘customer is king’.

Other
key findings from Hill and Knowlton’s Corporate Reputation Watch 2002 survey,
conducted by Harris Interactive, include:


Customers (98 per cent) and employees (64 per cent) are the top shapers of a UK
company’s reputation but the CEO’s own reputation (56 per cent) remains a
powerful influence too


In choosing a new successor for the CEO, nearly two thirds (62 per  cent) of UK boards look at a candidate’s
ability to effectively protect and enhance the company’s reputation.  This compares with 88 per cent of US
companies


There is a growing trend for the CEO to be measured and partially remunerated
according to their ability to affect corporate reputation – the ability to
communicate (78 per cent), ahead of innovation (72 per cent) and financial
performance (66 per cent), is key to building reputation for UK companies.


Across all markets, corporate social responsibility has become a board-level
concern, more so in Europe than the US. 
The UK leads the European league tables: 88 per cent of British businesses
believe social responsibility will be more important in the future,
specifically to build employee loyalty and increase sales, and nearly two
thirds of British boards now monitor CSR initiatives 


Treatment of employees, corporate governance, financial transparency, ethical
and environmental values are cited as the most important aspects of social
responsibility

By Ben Willmott

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