Who's leading on reputation risk?

13 October 2015

Reputation risk is a hot topic right now and a major preoccupation for most boards who are looking for reassurance that reputation risk is being managed systematically, and with the same rigour and frameworks, as every other risk.  The City is increasingly also looking for evidence that reputation management and intelligence systems are in place.

 There is an opportunity here for the corporate communications/affairs leader and their function to grab and take leadership of.  Some undoubtedly are, but it appears that many are not, which is odd when they describe themselves as stewards of corporate reputation.  If they decline or fail to grasp the opportunity to lead on this area, then others will take it, with an accompanying risk of a decline in the perceived seniority and stature of the corporate affairs function.  General counsel for one, under whose leadership a number of companies have put their corporate affairs function.

 Schillings, the law firm, publish a Reputation Resilience Report every year, and the 2014 report showed that 62% of general counsel surveyed in large PLCs believed they were directly responsible for managing reputation risk.

 Also interesting to note, not one of the participants in the 2014 Reputation@Risk report published by Deloitte earlier this year, was a corporate affairs/communications director or CCO.  The message seems to be clear – they are not perceived as having responsibility for reputation risk (or an important perspective/influence?) otherwise they would have been asked to participate.

 What is going on here and are there any discernible trends?  Should those charged with stewardship of reputation be taking a more consistent lead on reputation risk frameworks, systems etc?  If so, why don't/won’t they?  What’s stopping them?  It would be interesting to hear people’s views on this topic.

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