Research by PricewaterhouseCoopers consistently shows that corporate reputation occupies a central position on the strategy radar screens of senior management. Reputation, in our view, will be a key competitive differentiator for the successful company for the next 50 years but companies wishing to maintain and grow sustainable shareholder value on the back of a solid reputation, will need real substance to back up the 'spin' of traditional PR and branding techniques.Stakeholders are demanding more information, transparency and accountability so companies will need to report on that ?real substance? ? to demonstrate the reality. It follows, therefore, that any company looking to create and protect shareholder value in the future should have a clear reputation management strategy in place, or risk seeing that value eroded and even destroyed.Through our extensive research with global companies and leading non-government organisations, we have identified areas of best practice in social and environmental reporting. We believe that, as reputation reporting evolves, business leaders of the future will need to build best practice into a regular reporting vehicle to all their stakeholders (shareholders, customers, employees, business partners and society at large):Stakeholder relationships ? greater transparency in terms of companies describing their stakeholders and their relationships with these groups, as well as encouraging constructive dialogue with themBenchmarking ? measuring performance relative to prior years? activities and to other companies or industriesReport integration ? companies should attempt to relate their social and environmental performance to financial performance in their reportsPledges and timelines ? these should be explicit in the reports, even if aspirational, because they demonstrate long-term commitment to stakeholders and to internal managementReputation scorecard ? a balanced scorecard of the future should show the company?s relationship with each of its key stakeholder groups.Stakeholders will take a close interest in how a company and its reputation measure up to their own differing criteria. Crucially, they reserve the right to withdraw their resources and co-operation from the company if they believe it does not measure up. It is hard to overestimate how important it is that companies demonstrate that they have their house in order as we enter the 21st century.
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