Harris Poll Shows Risk of Crises to a Company’s Reputation
The annual Harris Poll is out and once again it underscores the impact of crises on a company’s reputation. The poll doesn’t only lay out the issues that the 23,000 Americans polled said pose the biggest risk for companies worried about how well they are viewed. It also shows that the two companies with the lowest scores — Takata and Wells Fargo — are two companies that have been buffeted by world-class crises.
The poll found the biggest risks to corporate reputation are intentional wrongdoing or illegal actions by corporate leaders (cited by 85 percent of Americans), lying or misinterpreting the facts about a product or service (83%), and intentional misuse of financial information for financial gain (82%).
Other risks are security or data breaches (74%), unfair workplace conditions and culture (67%), workplace discrimination (65%), product recall due to contamination (65%), and poor leadership conduct (64%).
According to Harris, these factors should be considered when weighing crisis response.
Reputation managers often face great internal and external pressures to respond, so the more they can understand the scale of response that makes sense the better.
— Wendy Salomon, vice president of reputation management and public affairs, The Harris Poll
“Incidents that introduce reputational risk are not created equal,” Wendy Salomon, vice president of reputation management and public affairs at The Harris Poll, said in a press release. “Some crises that we’ve seen play out in the past few years cut at the core of what the public sees as most damaging, while other situations aren’t such a big deal. Reputation managers often face great internal and external pressures to respond, so the more they can understand the scale of response that makes sense the better.”
The poll uses a Reputation Quotient, or RQ, that measures the general public’s view of the 100 most visible corporations’ reputation.
Of the 100 companies listed, Takata, with its crisis over faulty air bags, and Wells Fargo, with its fake-accounts scandal, were the only two to have RQ scores at “critical” levels. Takata came in last, with an RQ of 48.70, while Wells Fargo was 99th, with an RQ of 49.11.
Wells Fargo, whose problems broke out publicly in September, had been at a “fair” score (69.73) in 2016. Its 20.6 point decline surpassed Volkswagen’s 20.5 point drop in 2016, which was then a record. Volkswagen, whose massive emissions scandal began in September 2015, showed signs of recovery this year with an RQ score of 63.46 — poor, but up 8.7 points.
The number one company for the second consecutive year was Amazon.com, with unsurpassed scores for emotional appeal, products and services, vision and leadership, and financial performance. (The other two areas polled are social responsibility and workplace environment.)
Amazon was followed by Wegmans, Publix Super Markets, Johnson & Johnson, and Apple.
Photo Credit: Volkswagen