Corporate reputation is becoming more relevant. Seven years ago, five out of 10 employees considered that this intangible resource was crucial in the value proposition of companies. Today, 90% say that business reputation is very important in their organizations, according to the study Corporate Reputation Management in Mexico, by the JeffreyGroup agency.
But just over a third of companies actively manage their reputation and there is a greater tendency to prioritize it in publicly traded companies , possibly as an effect of the demands and scrutiny that these organizations are subjected to. This shows the great opportunity there is to move from concept to action, trying to be much more aware and purposeful in this matter.
Mauricio Gutiérrez, president and founding member of the Círculo de Reputación Corporativa and Ambassador of Corporate Excellence, Center For Reputation Leadership in Mexico, defines corporate reputation as the set of perceptions that various interest groups with which it interacts have about a company, from collaborators and shareholders to customers and suppliers.
Companies classified as ‘good’ are distinguished because they are capable of attracting and retaining more and better talent , maintain and strengthen ties with all their stakeholders through dialogue, and are also sustainable, since social responsibility and care for the environment environment are priorities in its identity and its work, and make up an important part of its value commitment.
Above all, reputation is based on behaviors and distinctive characteristics of each company that are difficult to copy because they are linked to their particular history. “Reputation is based on excellent management of those relevant dimensions of business behavior, for example: financial performance, innovation, citizenship, work, leadership, ethics and quality of products and services,” says Gutiérrez.
According to the study, in which the CEOs of 102 organizations participated, these companies are aware of the benefits provided by the intangible resource. 74.5% highlight that reputation improves the percentages of credibility and trust of the company in general.
For 72.5%, reputation gives investors certainty to attract capital . 70.6% recognize that it generates strategic alliances; 67.6% that promotes stronger and more honest ties with society, and 64.7% that reduces the effects of crises.
However, the results also revealed that it is still necessary to develop more awareness for certain benefits of reputation, such as strengthening dialogue with government , equitable and sustainable development , differentiation in aspects that are impossible to copy, and attraction and retention of talent.
Hence, there is a disparity of opinion between bosses and employees about the company’s reputation. From the perspective of employers, your organization is very good, it is aware and cares about its employees. From the perspective of the collaborators , who are the ones who live or must adjust to the policies and rules of the corporations, these policies are not always welcome or do not adjust to what they expect.
The contradictions between both visions occur because there is no previous dialogue or it does not always take place. The company has its own vision and needs, while the employees have theirs. It takes a lot of time and effort for both to agree and negotiate their needs and requirements, says Mariela Chavarría, researcher emeritus at Tecnológico de Monterrey.
“The management of a good corporate reputation must always start from the idea that each employee or collaborator is the best ambassador of the brand and therefore he is going to speak well or badly about his company and will have credibility outside because he is within the company. business. When companies realize this, the distance or vision of employees and employers is reduced because more dialogue is established to adjust needs”, he adds.
Image and reputation
The image is the first impression that is created in a short time, through superficial contact. Instead, reputation is a deep concept that develops over time as a result of the organization’s actions, behaviors, and communications.
Gutiérrez assures that many employers confuse reputation with image. For this reason, there is also disagreement on the part of some collaborators. Reputation takes a long time to build and is not only based on what you say you do, but what you demonstrate , he emphasizes.
“There tend to be some imbalances in the perception that the interest groups have of the companies to which they are linked and the way in which the companies think they are perceived,” he explains.
With contextual intelligence, companies can understand what really worries their employees. The pandemic, for example, gave a different value to aspects such as well-being, physical and mental health, and work flexibility.
“If you as a company continue to operate and work on your reputational strategies as you did before the pandemic, it is clear that the margin between what your company’s collaborators expect and what you do will be greater and, in that sense, there will be an affectation to your reputation in terms of management and attraction of talent ”, warns the expert.
Of the 102 surveys conducted, 8% said that reputation was sometimes attended to; 1% said that little and only one Mexican company recognized that this was not a relevant issue for them.
Mistakes in building reputation
Companies that have achieved a good reputation are aware that it is a transversal intangible that provides innumerable benefits, but that, since it depends on the evaluation and judgments of stakeholders , requires careful strategic management to preserve it.
Corporate reputation is highly susceptible to change and is present in everything the company does and says. The most common mistakes when building a business reputation, according to the experts consulted, are the following:
– Thinking that in two or three months you will drastically improve your reputation with a reputation strategy, when in reality it takes years and is built day by day.
– Leave this task in the hands of a person . Reputation requires everyone’s involvement, starting with the CEO, multidisciplinary work and monitoring of strategies and KPIs.
– Many believe that, being intangible, it cannot be measured or that it does not have an impact on company income, when quite the opposite is true. What is not measured can not be improved.
– Not relying on technological tools that allow greater clarity on how companies are doing in terms of reputation and, based on that, what to do to achieve a better position in the market.
– Carry out loose actions , dispersed because there is no awareness or interest (due to ignorance) that a strategy can be built that benefits the organization.
– Not carrying out an analysis of the possible risks. A very current example occurs in the case of cyber risks or all the vulnerabilities associated with the Internet and that have to do with the handling of information, but also with identity theft, impersonation, sale of information, fraud, etc.
– The design of the strategy is done without taking into account all the stakeholders or interest groups. Their demands are not listened to carefully and strategies are designed that are weak or that do not have enough strength to maintain and strengthen the reputation of a company.