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Archive for the ‘Business Ethics’ Category

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SynergyBlog has found a great post regarding the importance of corporate reputation – how to earn it and how to maintain it.

Referencing the demise of many corporate reputations, according Edleman Trust Barometer, a number of Britain’s most admired leaders sat down to discuss the maintenance of a good name…

The full transcript of the panel can be found in Management Today. Enjoy the post!

A recent trust survey confirmed that management has lost public respect. It’s not just individual businesses in the firing line, but business itself. MT brought together Most Admired leaders and other practitioners to debate the issue of how to hang onto your good name…

MATTHEW GWYTHER – Where better to start on a discussion of reputation than with Shakespeare? Iago may be a thoroughly disreputable character, but he has some sound words (Othello, III.3) on the value of character:

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,

Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.

The concept of reputation or honour was around for thousands of years before Fred Goodwin. But nowadays it has moved from the individual to the corporate realm, to the point where it is one of the most important things that faces business organisations.

We’re interested in corporate reputation today – not only of individual businesses but of business generally and how this may have been affected by the downturn. Certainly, inasmuch as it is aligned to the subject of trust in business, it has taken a battering – as a recent Edelman Barometer of Trust survey confirmed. (more…)

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TRUSTThis is a piece from the Academy Leadership that SynergyBlog feels they could have written themselves. It’s that good.

We’ll not pontificate. Please read, and in doing so, may your organizations and relationships thrive.

Enjoy. Trust… and be Trusted!

From the Academy Leadership: In its simplest form, trust can be described as the belief that those on whom we depend will meet our positive expectations of them. While this may sound the same as confidence, they are different. Trust is not always rooted in past experience with others, whereas confidence generally results from specific experiences with people and is built on reason and fact. In contrast, trust is based in part on faith. We sometimes give our trust in spite of evidence that suggests we should feel some caution, if not outright suspicion, about relying on another.

Business realities now require that more power be given to those with close contacts with very discriminating consumers. No longer can the few powerful people at the top make all decisions and take all actions. Most companies now realize that they must provide people at lower levels increasing latitude in order to react promptly to demanding market forces and to progress and prosper. Thus, they must trust people to do the right thing. To do otherwise could well spell disaster for the future. Leaders can lead only to the extent that they are allowed to lead by their followers. When people believe that they are not trusted, or lack trust in their leaders, they will actively or passively resist what the team is trying to accomplish. Thus, a leader’s options are limited by excessive and ongoing mistrust among employees. (more…)

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TRUST: EssentialAmerican consumers and stakeholders find reasons to distrust business, political, and civic leaders every time they tune into CNN or other news outlets.

However, there’s been an unintended consequence: The diminishment of integrity in leaders has given voice to the presence of integrity in the rest of us!

Despite the global financial challenges that we face, there are reasons for optimism.

SynergyBlog is pleased that trust in leadership and trust in each other is becoming an integral part of the daily business discourse.

Today, like so many other days, I witnessed incredible sensitivity, tremendous integrity, and a spirit of giving we never hear about in the news… all in the context of commerce.

I witnessed corporations interested in sustainable practices; companies really interested in consumer needs and desires; organizations interested in the bottom line – and so much more. These virtues all demonstrated by business and civic leaders!

When we look around, it’s easy to point out the violations of trust – they’re everywhere. Perhaps we should sometimes do the harder thing and pay attention when colleagues, leaders, and everyday people do the right thing.

There’s a great peice on brand trust in Forbes by leadership guru Ken Blanchard and author and consultant Terry Waghorn that speaks to this. See the full article here:

How do you keep people trusting you at a time like this? Trust is essential in our lives, and it has been since the beginning of our country. Our dollar bills say In God We Trust. Yet today trust is all but vanishing, especially trust in our business leaders, whose greed and short-term selfishness seem to have been a major cause of our economic crisis. With negativity running amok, it is no small wonder that trust within the organizational context is slipping.

Yet that need not be the case. “Managed properly, trust can actually grow in such adverse conditions,” says Shawna O’Grady, associate professor of management at Queens School of Business, in Kingston, Ontario. “Taking this point to the extreme, consider the bonds forged between comrades-in-arms in a theater of war.”

The key to building trust in both good and bad times is to realize that none of us is as smart as all of us. There are companies that have embraced this simple truth and used it to maintain trust before, during and, we’re sure, after this economic downturn. All these companies seem to have two characteristics in common. (more…)

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wall_street_2Today SynergyBlog learns that despite the economic woes that many American’s feel, the executives of AIG have decided that they deserve $165 million in bonuses.

This behavior is alarming, outrageous, and it’s the reason my dissertation will seek to understand the drivers of trust and distrust in brands and corporate leaders – and how to restore that trust once it is broken.

The executives at AIG should do a little research of their own. They should look into the lives of average Americans and think about whether they deserve one more cent (in addition to the $170 billion bailout money they’ve already recieved) of our hard-earned money.

According to CBS News American International Group is paying out millions of dollars in executive bonuses to meet a Sunday deadline. But the troubled insurance giant has agreed to administration demands to restrain future payments.

The Treasury Department determined that the government did not have the legal authority to block the current payments by the company that has already received more than $170 billion in U.S. support.

AIG declared earlier this month that it had suffered a loss of $61.7 billion for the fourth quarter of last year, the largest corporate loss in history.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has asked that the company scale back future bonus payments where legally possible, an administration official said Saturday.

This official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Saturday that Geithner had called AIG Chairman Edward Liddy on Wednesday to ask that Liddy renegotiate AIG’s current bonus structure. See full story here.

Is this ethical behavior? SynergyBlog is disgusted. How about you?

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apple computer logoFortune Magazine released the names of their annual list of the Most Admired Companies in the World 2009 today.

For those of us who value corporate responsibility from every perspective, the list shows no real surprises.  Here are the top five:

1. Apple
2. Berkshire Hathaway
3. Toyota Motor
4. Google
5. Johnson & Johnson

Fortune surveyed 689 companies from 28 countries. There were 64 industries involved in the survey, 25 international industries and 39 U.S. industries.

Fortune researchers asked executives, directors, and analysts to rate companies in their own industry on nine criteria, from innovation to corporate social responsibility.

  • Innovation
  • People Management
  • Use of corporate assets
  • Social responsibility
  • Quality of Management
  • Financial soundness
  • Long-term investment
  • Quality of products/service
  • Global competitiveness

According to Fortune, here are the stories of the top five most admired companies:

Apple:

It’s been a rocky year for Apple: CEO Steve Jobs’ health made headlines, and critics said Cupertino wasn’t being open enough about it. But customers remained loyal to the brand that made white ear buds cool. As much of the computer industry struggled, Apple shipped 22.7 million iPods during its first quarter (up 3 percent from last year), 2.5 million Macs (up 9 percent), and 4.4 million iPhones. No wonder Apple tops our Most Admired list for the second year in a row. —Alyssa Abkowitz

Berkshire Hathaway:
Warren Buffett’s firm helped beleaguered General Electric and Goldman Sachs wrestle with the financial crisis by purchasing billions in their preferred stocks. Still, Berkshire itself suffered this year, with Class A shares falling 49% since their peak in Dec. 2007, as its investments in Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp and American Express got hit hard. But as one financial advisor told Reuters: “[Buffett] admits when he is wrong. You don’t get candor from other CEOs. That’s why his credibility is so high.” –A.A.

Toyota Motor:
As U.S. automakers GM and Chrysler went crawling to Washington for help, Toyota was still looking relatively strong. But the global downturn still took a toll: For the first time since 1950, in February Toyota forecasted that it would post a net loss — almost $4 billion in its 2008 fiscal year. Just days earlier, the company named Akio Toyoda, the grandson of renowned founder Kiichiro Toyoda, as president. By going back to the basics, the world’s largest and richest automaker hopes to drive its earnings north again. –A.A.

Google:
The company whose streamlined web search is so popular it’s become a verb just keeps on innovating. Who else would think to offer e-mail accounts with Goggles, a feature that premiered in October, to prevent us from sending drunken messages? Even as the rest of the tech industry struggles, Google’s ad revenue continues to grow. Still, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company’s enviable perks took a (small) hit this year: Its New York office will have shorter cafeteria hours and no afternoon tea. Free gourmet food is still on the menu, though. –A.A.


Johnson & Johnson:
Millions of people use J&J’s products, which include Listerine, Tylenol and Neutrogena. And the health care company is diversifying to make sure it doesn’t become overly dependent on drugs with expiring patents: It recently partnered with Vanderbilt University to develop drugs to combat schizophrenia and acquired Mentor Corp., a breast-implant producer. But for the first time in 76 years, J&J forecasts that its annual revenue will fall, dropping to between $61 billion and $62 billion from $63.7 billion in 2008. –A.A.

During these difficult economic times it does our hearts good to see companies that innovate, are socially responsible and fiscally responsible, who treat their people well and value the communities in which they live. Are they rewarded with great reputations and strong brands? Yes. Do the accolades transform into profits? Yes. Can any company, group, or individual duplicate these successes? Absolutely.

See full story on CNN Money here.

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dan-golemanAs a long-time admirer of TED, SynergyBlog is pleased to have happened upon this inspirational piece from Daniel Goleman. Dr. Goleman studies, writes, and lectures on Emotional Intelligence along with Case Western Reserve University’s Dr. Richard Boyatzis.

As you listen to Dr. Goleman, perhaps it will do your heart good to reflect on all of the times you were a Good Samaritan (we know you have been).

Did, in those moments, you become the leader you have always wanted to be? Did “Brand You” become so much more than just a slogan? It’s not to late to bring those moments of pure goodness back in our words and deeds, both inside and outside of our corporate lives. We can bring them back, and we should. Again and again.

Please click here to watch Dr. Goleman. Enjoy!

P.s. There’s also a wonderful talk by Elizabeth Gilbert on creative genius… brilliant!

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Blackwater Iraqui Photo Blackwater Worldwide, known for the unfortunate 2007 Nisoor shootings which left tens of Iraquis dead, have embarked upon a re-branding effort to begin reputation repair. In shedding the old moniker for a new one, Xe (pronounced Zee), the hope is that the organization’s transgressions will be forgotten.

SynergyBlog can assure you, their transgressions will not be forgotten. However, if the organization truly has an interest in repairing its reputation, there are some steps that it can take to begin to repair the brand and rebuild trust.

First, it will take time. A lot of time. And it will require the stakeholders, including the Iraqi people, Americans whose reputations have also been tarnished by these acts, and the world community to be willing to forgive and willing to reconcile. (more…)

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