Some would think it an understatement to say that the latest Ipsos' Reputation Council sitting takes place against an uncertain global backdrop. We seem to be in a perfect storm of social, political, and economic upheaval – the war in Ukraine, supply chain bottlenecks feeding inflation, and the lingering impact of Covid-19 are but a few of the factors impacting the world.
However, against this background companies need to continue with the business of doing business whilst also considering their broader role and responsibilities. How should they respond to the war in Ukraine? Should they remain silent and let governments get on with the task of sorting out the crisis? Or should they play a visible part in the international community’s response? The current global turmoil has also heightened stakeholder expectation with regards to ESG. We talked to Council members about the challenges of hardwiring ESG into a company’s activities. Council members talked about the difficulties in finding a consistent set of measures by which ESG implementation could be judged – a fact compounded by rapidly changing ESG rules and standards.
We also talked to Council members about the rise of business regulation. Was it a case of governments not trusting companies to do the right thing, or alternatively the desire to create a well ordered and regulated market that businesses and society could both benefit from? Council members made some interesting points about the trade-off between the time consumed on complex rules and regulations and the increased risks that come with operating in a relaxed regulatory environment. And within all these global developments what about the credibility of social media as an effective means of communication?
There is little doubt about its speed and ability to target specific audiences in a cost-effective way. But has it become compromised as issues such as misinformation, synthetic media and fake news become ever more prevalent?
This year’s Reputation Council Report makes fascinating reading and paints a picture of a world where business has never been more under the spotlight and where traits such as transparency, authenticity and empathy have never been a more important part of corporate character.