Friday, October 23, 2009

CSR and your company's reputation

"Your reputation is created at and affected by every touch point of the organization. Reputation management means addressing your organizational reputation as a strategic issue. It requires a whole-of-business approach to genuine corporate social responsibility and sustainability, and a culture of thinking beyond quarterly financial reports."

One of the most amazing things about the blogosphere and the twitterverse is that you meet the most inspiring people. I have been fortunate to meet the author of the above words. She is Alex Harris (#ff), a reputation management professional with more than 20 years experience in the media industry. Alex authored the book Reputation at Risk, published by Masterstroke Group in June 2009. Alex is the author of the widely acclaimed blog, Reputation Report. The quote above is the start of the epilogue to 140 pages of rivetting perspectives about and examples of the way organizations mis-manage reputation, the risks and consequences of such actions, and insights into best practice. Reading Reputation at Risk will leave you in no doubt about the clear link between business success and effective reputation management, and the umbellical cord that connects reputation and csr practices and reporting.  Alex was born in Papua New Guinea and now lives in Australia, so this book has a healthy helping of Australian stories, and a style which brings the Alex's passionate temperament to life for the reader.  

Reputation at Risk provides a view of corporate governance and the lack thereof that caused the GFC (Global Financial Crisis), the role of  business schools , the risks to reputation from CGM (consumer generated media (no, i didn't know what that meant either), crisis management and more. There is a checklist of positive corporate responses to a crisis or a serious issue and some good advice: "Too often, companies assume the crises will occur in normal working hours when all the key executives and trained operatives will be available. They rarely do". Alex promotes CSR as a key element of business, contributing to public image and reputation. She advocates that CSR should be part of the DNA of the business as csr influences a business's abilty to attract and retain skilled staff, maintain effective customer relationships and shareholder satisfaction and more. What's more, Reputation at Risk speaks in favour of reporting - "The way companies communicate their CSR activities is just as important as the CSR itself".

I tend to think that Alex Harris's voice over the past 20 years has carried some weight, because in a previous analysis i conducted, Australia is the number five top country in the world for producing CSR and sustainability reports. So, Alex, keep telling it as you see it. My only negative about this book is that it doesn't come with a free tub of Chunky Monkey.

elaine cohen is the joint CEO of BeyondBusiness, a leading reporting and social-environmental consulting firm . Visit our website at:

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