Today’s rant is based on the results of a Harris Interactive study concerning how the public feels about corporations. Actually, it’s pretty specific when it comes to individual corporate reputations and I think the results are kind of grim. Let’s see what you think. You can read the summary document of the study here and I think it’s worth a few minutes of your time. As with most research, what’s meaningful isn’t so much where the results indicate corporate reputation is at any particular point in time but what the trend lines indicate over time. In this case, they indicate that the public is paying attention, and it reminds me of Mark Antony‘s speech in Julius Caesar: “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.”
This is from the Harris summary document and is yet another “duh” moment:
Industries positioned as part of the solution to America’s economic woes are best able to weather negative perceptions surrounding corporate America. Industries that are seen to be helping America’s ailing economy tend to have higher reputations.
Technology and Retail:
53% and 39% of Americans, respectively, see them as part of the solution. Examples of specific RQ scores are:
- Apple: 85.62
- Whole Foods Market: 80.14
Industries that are perceived to be hurting the economy tend to have lower reputations.
Financial Services and Banking:
70% and 75% of Americans, respectively, see them as part of the problem. Examples of specific RQ scores are:
“RQ” scores are Harris’ term for a reputation quotient. Once a company gets a score below 50 it’s in danger of “expiring” (Harris’ term). What’s most interesting to me is that ” just 2 in 10 Americans say that corporate America’s reputation is positive, and only 9% of respondents said that the reputation of corporate America improved over the past year, while 60% said it has declined.” I think we can anticipate that these feelings will play a role in the upcoming election cycle.
We may think we can “get away with things” as a business. We can’t. Obviously, bad behavior is noted and everyone has the tools available to let the world know about it. The evil does live on but I think this indicates that the good is noted as well (Apple set a record for a positive score, having gone from 62 to 85 in just 12 years). We have choices as businesspeople and they involve striking the balance between serving the business and serving the customer. Clearly the latter is paying attention.