repYOUtation® – Gaining Competitive Advantage In The Age Of Digitization

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From analysis to strategy/concept and implementation of a comprehensive program repYOUtation® has created a unique holistic approach to systemically managing a company’s reputation comprising all stakeholders and reputation drivers. repYOUtation® program trains individual to actively manage his or her reputation embedded in a network of different stakeholders in the private and corporate area.

Below is our interview with Bernhard Bauhofer, the Founder & Managing Partner of Sparring Partners Ltd.:

Q: Digitization and Artificial Intelligence will destroy thousands of jobs. How can companies score points nonetheless?

A: The ongoing discussions on potential effects of the digital revolution are stigmatizing employees as the losers leaving aside the great opportunities for both employers and employees. Within an employer branding strategy a company can create preferences among talents by actively responding to the new workplace requirements in the age of Artificial Intelligence and digitization. Corporate leaders should actively drive the discussion and develop individual solutions together with their staff. Developing new job profiles, constantly training their talents and further developing specialization of the workforce not only has an enormous societal impact but also creates goodwill among all of a company’s stakeholders – employees and their families, unions, investors and of course media. This is a huge untapped potential.

Q: What importance plays Corporate Social Responsibility in this new era?

A: The foremost responsibility of a company is to provide jobs. And particularly in this historic moment we have to re-interpret the concept of work. Throughout the times the patron has taken care of his or her company and its workforce. Now 21st century entrepreneurs and visionaries can prove their farsightedness in our times of massively reduced public sector and social welfare budgets. With respect to the growing inequality and the securitization of demand for their products companies have to be concerned that purchasing power is widely distributed among the population.

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Q: Which strategies can companies pursue in the war for rare talents?

A: Corporate Care and Employability are two key areas where companies can find new points for differentiation. As an alternative draft to the still dominating and desastrous hire- & fire culture, enterprises can position themselves as a role model employer by living a care-strategy. A great opportunity lies in adapting and redefining of social benefits which public authorities can not afford anymore for instance in the areas of old-age pension and health provision or education. Financial benefits which go far beyond randomly spent fringe benefits.

Q: Could you give us examples?

A: Google has stunned the world by announcing that it would give financial support to the families of its deceased employees. It will pay half of their salaries and support their children with 1000 Dollars per month. Generosity which directly impacts motivation and loyalty of their employees. Education is another big topic. By offering education to employees designed to their specific requirements companies maintain qualifications of their work force up to date while at the same securing employability and market value. The ongoing talks among Silicon Valley companies with respect to Universal Basic Income are signs of how big the concerns about rising inequality are.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

A: As pioneers in reputation management we have been in the market for almost 20 years advising companies around the globe. We want to make companies aware of the rising complexity of managing a reputation in a multiple stakeholder environment and in times of total connectedness. The recipe for a superior reputation lies in a company’s willingness and ability to include their stakeholders’ needs and expectations within their value creation. The shareholder value paradigm and short-term focus on profit maximization have proved to be a disaster.

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Q: What is your biggest advantage?

A: Starting with qualitative interviews in which we ask a representative sample of different stakeholders on how they have been experiencing the company over time with respect to different reputation drivers such as quality/service, innovation, communication, social responsibility we develop and implement a 360° reputation management program. It is key to train the whole organization with respect to maintaining the reputation. Having a consistently sound reputation is the expression of a Corporate Culture to which all company members actively contribute on a daily basis.

Q: Why is reputation important in the digital age?

A: In time constant change a company’s reputation provides its customers and other stakeholders with a certain level of predictability and thus peace of mind. Apple’s reputation for innovation attracts both customers and talents and creates long-term bonds. But a reputation should be consistently positive – the tax evation strategies of the tech giants and multinationals are stains on their white corporate shields. In the context of Corporate Citizenship and Responsibility a company has to pay taxes in the country where it reaps the profits.