Reputation, trust and doing the right thing

Our reputation is our greatest asset but one false step can have a lasting impact

Our reputation is our greatest asset. It’s also our greatest vulnerability. This is as true of our firms as it is of us. One false step can have a lasting impact. Reputational damage is just one moment away.

We aim to present ourselves in the best light, both as individuals and firms. We carefully manage our communications and cultivate our online presence. We establish networks and partnerships. We develop and innovate and shout about our successes. But we can’t get things right all of the time and we can never truly avoid the prospect of reputational damage. So what can we do when things go wrong? 

At the ICSA Conference, we heard from Ipsos that being a trusted brand is more important than ever.  Trusted companies are profitable just as trusted people build a foundation for success. Profit or personal kudos is no longer the main goal, but becomes a by-product of being trusted, and creating value. In this way, trust and reputation are inextricably linked. Being trusted builds a strong reputation that can protect us when things go wrong and give us a platform to recover.

Trust can only be gained by proving that we are trustworthy. So how do we demonstrate that we can be trusted, both as firms and as individuals? In the end, it always comes down to doing the right thing. If we show clearly and consistently that we act honourably and for the greater good we can survive a short term knock and continue to thrive.

It starts with strong foundations: a clear vision for what we want to be; defined values; open communication; a proven track record of delivery. Treat others as we’d like to be treated and always act in the best interests of the whole. Surround ourselves with the right partners who follow our example and share our values. Think long term and set the tone.

Governance Professionals know a thing or two about doing the right thing. We’re the conscience of our organisations. We have integrity and a strong code of ethics. We are open and transparent, admit our mistakes and put things right. We offer guidance and support. We are trusted because we do the right thing. 

We should never underestimate our potential to influence. Our roles afford us direct access to our Chairman, Boards and Exec Teams. By driving high standards of governance we encourage our firms to act with integrity and demonstrate that we are trustworthy. In turn, we strengthen our reputation and build layers of protection for when things go wrong. Our mantra should be simple: do the right thing. The rest will follow.

Learn about this and more at the Data Governance Summit on 11 November 2019 where we'll be exploring reputational risk and how can you monitor – and manage – what’s said about you online.

The author of this article is Richard Johnston, Company Secretary at Benenden Health. Richard will appear as a panel speaker at the Data Governance Summit.  

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