The drivers of corporate reputation change quickly, which makes it hard sometimes for publicly traded companies to determine what to do or "be" to satisfy ethical performance pundits.
But for all the recent attention on governance structure, financial transparency and commitment to shrinking an environmental footprint, there are a few more core principles around which companies can build a sustainable ethical reputation and which are likely to be a benchmark for a few years to come:
- Evidence tipping the company's decision-making away from short-term profitability and towards improving the long-term public good.
- Extend the company's citizenship framework - in practice - well beyond simply not breaking the law, especially when operating in other countries.
- Tackle at the board level the perceived (?) hypocrisy gap around CEO pay, backdating options and excessive golden parachutes, especially when company performance unmistakably doesn't warrant it.
- Manage business risk in the best interest of employees, customers and communities THEN shareholders.
- Think of shareholders not as owners but as suppliers . . . of equity capital.