It’s surprising that established, respected companies should find themselves under the media spotlight and the opprobrium of public opinion for actions or practices that touch on the hypersensitive issues of the moment: forced child labor, discrimination, environmental damage…

And yet, the weak signals are there for all to see. So why are these signals at best underestimated, at worst ignored?

One reason is the approach companies take to reputational risk: most of the time, it is entrusted to the ESG department, which generally has only theoretical experience of this type of situation, whereas all the company’s departments are concerned: human resources through the reputation of the “employer brand”, the procurement department through procurement policies and the management of the reputation of the “customer brand”, the quality department, the tax and finance department, and so on.

A holistic approach to the problem would enable companies to manage these risks:
– Systematic identification of risks through analysis of weak signals
– Assessment of the potential impact of these risks on the results and reputation of the company and its managers
– Evaluate the risk/benefit ratio of pursuing certain attitudes or practices that are not illegal, but which are repressed by public opinion.
– Implementation of mitigation plans, supported by digital and artificial intelligence tools

Working on reputational risks with professionals who have had to deal with such situations would enable companies and brands who so wish to protect themselves upstream, rather than having to deal with it in the form of crisis management, when it’s already too late.

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