Reputational currency - how healthy is your account?

The digital era has transformed thought leadership for corporate reputation. The rise of big data has enabled analytical experts to put quantitative assessments on the 'currency' of reputation. This comes at a time when public trust is declining aided by an abundance of fake news; the reputation of any organisation communicating information is critical.

All organisations provide information, regardless of sector, whether government statistics, a plethora of social media posts, financial reports to investors, product advertisements or in the case of the NHS, patient guidance. In the information age the list is endless. This paper explores the concept of reputational currency and the role that internal audit has in providing assurance over how organisations are proactively managing their reputation, and its value.

In times of uncertainty, such as the coronavirus crisis, information is critical to an organisation’s reputation:

  • What did the lack of PPE say about the government’s ability to resource the NHS?
  • How did perceptions change for luxury brands such as Burberry (PPE) and perfume giant LVHM (hand sanitiser) switching production lines to provide critical products, likewise small businesses that did the same?
  • Where will consumer preferences reside - with companies that gave timely refunds or those who delayed or refused to reimburse travellers, audiences etc when commitments couldn’t be fulfilled due to lockdown measures?

The words and actions of leaders are important amid chaos – the CEO of Primark was clear in his response to the company losing sales of £650m a month while stores were forced to close, “in time we can rebuild the profits, we can’t replace the people we lose.”

Double vision

The Oxford dictionary defined reputation as ‘the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something’. This is the traditional Outside-in perspective, yet reputation is two-fold. It is also about what…

"Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing."

John Rockerfeller