Companies' reputations rest on CEOs, research finds

According to 81 per cent of global executives, a CEO's public profile is crucial to the reputation of a company, but their contribution to business market value is much lower.

The research, conducted by Weber Shandwick, found that executives estimated 44 per cent of their company’s market value was attributable to the reputation of their CEO. This figure was lowest in the UK, at just 25 per cent, and 38 per cent in the US.

A CEO with a strong reputation also attracts and retains employees (77 per cent and 70 per cent, respectively).

The majority of executives also believed that CEOs should participate in external events to boost the profile of their company – 82 per cent said speaking at events, 71 per cent said being accessible to news media and over half said holding positions of leadership outside of the company.

Leslie Gaines-Ross, Weber Shandwick’s chief reputation strategist, said: "Years ago, CEOs and those around them confused CEO visibility with CEO celebrity. Today, it is not about CEO celebrity, but CEO credibility that can be built through multiple channels that add value inside and outside the organisation."

The findings vary depending on region; compared with European, Asia Pacific and Latin American executives, North American executives perceived their leaders to be better communicators, both internally and externally. Canadian executives were the most likely to say their company had a very strong reputation (63 per cent).

Almost half (41 per cent) of European executives said their CEO was comfortable talking to the media, with higher figures across different regions. A CEO's engagement with social media also affected how highly regarded they were.

A CEO's gender had no influence on a company’s reputation and market value, with 38 per cent of male CEOs considered to have a good reputation and 36 per cent of female CEOs.

Micho Spring, Weber Shandwick’s global corporate practice chair, added: "CEO engagement has become an important driver of company value. Our research shows that there is a new breed of CEOs who not only recognise this, but are embracing opportunities to tell their company’s narratives and engage in new ways with audiences inside and outside their organisation."

The report, The CEO Reputation Premium: Gaining Advantage in the Engagement Era, is based on the findings of more than 1,700 senior executives across 19 countries in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America.

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