Why values matter when it comes to effective reputation management

June 6, 2019 by Sophie Hunt

Flicking through the papers recently, two stories particularly caught my eye. The first related to the shocking abuse of vulnerable adults at Whorlton Hall – a specialist hospital in County Durham.

The second focussed on the resignation of five senior leaders at Amnesty International after a report claimed the organisation had a ‘toxic culture’. Whilst on the face of it two very different stories, they actually share some common ground. Both deal with organisations facing a major reputational crisis for failing to live and enforce their stated (or perceived) values.

Putting values at the heart of crisis management

Evidence shows that the biggest reputational risks often centre on corporate behaviour which contravenes the values of the organisation at the heart of the crisis. Just think of VW and the emissions scandal, or Oxfam and the backlash it faced after staff behaviour in Haiti was brought to the world’s attention.

If an organisation truly wants to protect its reputation, it needs to live and breathe its values on a daily basis. It also needs to create and embody a culture that will minimise its potential for risk.

Creating a crisis-resistant culture

A crisis-resistant culture is one in which an organisation acknowledges the potential for things to go wrong and plans accordingly. It’s also one where staff are actively encouraged to flag issues and share concerns, safe in the knowledge that when they spot a problem, management will take fast and appropriate action.

Embedding a crisis resistant culture requires leadership teams to champion, communicate and embody the behaviours they want. It also requires tough action against those who fail to embrace this culture and reward for those who do.

By applying these principles, organisations will be better prepared to handle potential crises. They’ll also be better corporate citizens, so a win for all concerned.     


Sophie Hunt


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