MWW findings reveal a large gap between executives’ perceptions of the importance of a supportive corporate culture and their willingness to facilitate such a culture. Arguably, in doing so, executives put their organizations at risk of employee discontent and division, which may damage corporate reputation in the long-term.
The MWW survey of 100 business leaders and HR professionals found that three out of four business leaders believe corporate reputation is substantially driven by internal corporate culture. Nevertheless, only 5 percent suggest their organization’s culture is strong enough to prevent reputational crisis.
Events at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase show that the consequences of a bad corporate reputation are quite costly, in both a figurative and literal sense. Goldman Sachs’s image was tainted when a former employee’s critical letter of the firm’s internal culture appeared in a March edition of New York Times. JP Morgan lost over $2 billion in a single trade earlier this month, which many inside the firm blamed on a lack of leadership and internal discord amongst chief executives.
Revealing another disconnect between executive perception and behavior, the study found that while most executives rank employees among the top two influencing groups that most impact their reputation, only 74 percent believe employees truly buy in to their corporate culture.
Carreen Winters, executive vice president of reputation management for MWW Group suggests that lax attitudes toward corporate culture are an unfortunate norm.
“[Too] often, reputation management programs focus exclusively or predominantly on engaging with external stakeholders. Positive, productive cultures don’t just happen; they are cultivated and nurtured over time. Communications can be a powerful and effective tool for connecting the dots between internal and external stakeholders, and for creating the kind of culture that serves as the foundation of a bulletproof reputation.”