CEOs take responsibility for corporate rep, survey says

NEW YORK: A new survey of CEOs and top executives shows that most corporate chieftains believe the buck stops with them when it comes to their companies' reputation. Those findings come via a survey conducted by market-research firm ORC International, sponsored by Hill & Knowlton and recruiter Korn/Ferry International.

NEW YORK: A new survey of CEOs and top executives shows that most corporate chieftains believe the buck stops with them when it comes to their companies' reputation. Those findings come via a survey conducted by market-research firm ORC International, sponsored by Hill & Knowlton and recruiter Korn/Ferry International.

According to the survey, 65% of CEO respondents worldwide stated that it was their personal responsibility to manage their companies' reputation. Fourteen percent said it was the board of directors' responsibility, while 12% considered corporate reputation the responsibility of the communications department.

The survey, which examined the views of 257 North American, Asian, and European executives with the title of CEO, president, or chairman, examined C-suite perspectives on issues relating to corporate reputation and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

"I think that there is an increasing level of sophistication, as reputation is considered an asset," said Harlan Teller, president of H&K's worldwide corporate practice. "What this reflects is that CEOs believe that PR is too important to be left with just the PR people."

The survey also reflected that there is more pressure on CEOs to build and maintain corporate reputation.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents pointed to customers as among the external forces with the greatest impact on their companies' reputation, with the print media (48%) and financial analysts (44%) also named as important influences.

Overall, the CEOs cited the primary business objectives of CSR initiatives as recruiting and retaining employees (71%), favorable media coverage (51%), and promoting transactions and partnerships (40%).

However, many executives did not consider CSR initiatives to be an important factor in their companies' reputation. Eighty percent said that CSR contributes at least moderately to their companies' reputation, but only 30% said that it contributes a "significant amount."

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