Corporate reputation relies on an awkward interdependence

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HYDE PARK CORNER — I have people in my house who are in the throws of adolescence. They are managing everyday to make uncomfortable compromises with themselves, their friends and society. “I won’t mention your dancing style if you don’t talk about my complexion.” It’s all part of the process of growing up. We build relationships with the world around us as we sit uncomfortably in it.

Corporations, major and minor, are doing the same thing today. They are trying to understand how the rules have changed. What do they need to be transparent about, and what can they still do as they always have.

“If you don’t mention my dubious sourcing system, I won’t mention your questionable application of charity status.”

More than I can ever remember previously the role of corporations, communities, governments and employees has changed. The balance of interdependence has shifted. And no one is entirely sure how it will play out.

However, I think we do know one thing for sure, that we have been ignoring for far too long:

Individuals have a lead role in all of this.

Leadership has been atomised. And although that might seem to take powers away from some, their power is not so greatly diminished as the power of everyone else has been increased.

No business decision is without some kind of consequence these days. And that means that no business person is without power and responsibility.

The only way to ensure that decisions are good is to increase our knowledge, inclusion and cooperation.

Interdependence is a basic business requirement. All our reputations will fail without it.

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