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Regulators, industry groups, consultants, and individual companies have developed elaborate guidelines over the years for assessing and managing risks in a wide range of areas, from commodity prices to natural disasters.
Yet they have all but ignored reputational risk, mostly because they aren’t sure how to define or measure it. Because so much market value comes from hard-to-assess intangible assets like brand equity and intellectual capital, organizations are especially vulnerable to anything that damages their reputations.
They tend to focus their energies on handling the threats to their reputations that have already surfaced.
That is not risk management; it is crisis management—a reactive approach aimed at limiting the damage.
Looking backward, I'll ruminate a little about how we got here, and finally, at the risk of appearing to be or worse, actually being the secular equivalent of a sanctimonious twit, offer some thoughts looking forward on lessons we might take away from all of this. I have reached the point in life where I view the world through ridiculously expensive progressive lenses, but I guarantee you these lenses are not rose-colored. To recap much of what you may already have read or heard, the Division of Enforcement is investigating over 100 matters relating to potential abuses of employee stock options.
I should begin of course where I always do with a disclaimer. The investigations are being conducted by SEC offices throughout the country and are being centrally coordinated and tracked here in Washington.
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Moreover, companies with strong positive reputations attract better talent and are perceived as providing more value in their products and services, which often allows them to charge a premium.