Presidents Club: Learn from the scandal or risk reputational catastrophe

Scandals that tarnish your corporate culture are hard to wash away, says crisis consultant Jonathan Hemus.

by Jonathan Hemus

When I began my career in crisis management, risk management focused almost entirely on incidents such as oil spills, factory fires and plane crashes. Businesses understood that physical events like these could do them serious harm if mis-managed. Whilst incidents must still be properly managed, there is now a new and more dangerous threat; reputational risk.

Organisations and individuals caught up in the Presidents Club debacle have all felt the impact on their reputation and business. Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, which had a table at the event, issued a detailed apology for the 'deep concern and offence' caused. Residential Land lost one of its major investors, Ivanhoe Cambridge, due to the 'events and behaviours as reported by the media'. Ocado was subjected to a social media storm as customers tweeted that they would no longer shop with the online grocer following CEO Tim Steiner’s attendance at the event.

Even Great Ormand Street Hospital was caught up in the reputational fallout, saying: 'Charities are going to have to be very careful. People will step up due diligence. There will be an increased focus on who you take money from and how that money is raised.'

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