Reputation tops list of business priorities

Global survey finds that respondents rate supply chain as their least resilient element and reputation management the top priority.

Protecting reputation tops business leaders list of priorities, ahead of financial achievements and business leadership, according to the world’s first benchmark of Organizational Resilience published today by BSI.

The study finds reputation is seen as the most important element to the long term success of the business, even more than financial aspects, leadership and vision and purpose. Despite this, 43 per cent of those interviewed as part of the global study, believed their organisation was strongly susceptible to reputational risk.

Related: How to build a good small business reputation with public relations

1,250 senior leaders of organisations across the globe participated in the study, which covered ten sectors across three regions: UK and Ireland, USA and Asia Pacific.

The magnitude of reputational risk was found to vary by geography. Globally 62 per cent rate their organisation’s current reputation as excellent or very good, but this figure rises to 75 per cent in the US and falls to 55 per cent and 56 per cent in the UK and Ireland and Asia Pacific respectively.

Out of the 16 elements that make up Organisational Resilience, the study found that the most and least important are:

Most important

1. Reputational risk
2. Financial aspects
3. Leadership
4. Vision and purpose
5. Information and knowledge management

Least important

1. Horizon acanning
2. Alignment
3. Community engagement
4. Culture
5. Adaptive capacity

The study also investigated how these elements ranked in terms of perceived performance. It found:

Highest performing

1. Financial aspects
2. Alignment
3. Leadership
4. Vision and purpose
5. Governance and accountability

Worst performing

1. Supply chain
2. Innovation
3. Horizon scanning
4. Information and knowledge management
5. Awareness, training and testing

Howard Kerr, chief executive at BSI, comments, ‘In today’s volatile and uncertain world, understanding what it takes to survive and thrive is tougher than ever. It is encouraging that business leaders understand that success is measured by more than market share, with trust and reputation clearly seen as critical to long-term success.

‘However, our culture of instant communication means that reputations can be destroyed in minutes. This makes it particularly concerning that only 62 per cent of respondents rated themselves as very good or excellent when it came to proactively building their reputation.’

Supply Chain was perceived as the least resilient of the elements. The research found this to be largely as a result of senior business leaders feeling less in control of supply chain processes, as they reside outside of their organisation. This places an onus on leaders to focus on maintaining the proper procedures to ensure their supply chains are as visible as possible, whilst using governance frameworks to maintain the highest ethics within their supply chain.

Horizon Scanning was identified as the least important aspect of resilience, with one third believing their organisations are average to poor at horizon scanning. This is the case for businesses of all ages, where a lack of processes and systems mean that organisations are unable to learn from past events, understand potential threats, and make the changes they need to.

Kerr concludes, ‘The challenges identified by our report cannot be addressed with quick and easy fixes, and Organisational Resilience has no finishing line. Instead, weaknesses should be tackled through a process of continual improvement. Past prosperity is no guarantee of future success, and it is only by embedding this kind of culture that organisations will be able to master resilience.

‘We hope the BSI Organisational Resilience Index provides the inspiration for more firms to embark on this process and reassess whether they measure up to industry best practice across their operations.’

Further reading on reputation

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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Reputation management