Welcome to the discussion on organisational character. As co-chairs, Anne and I wanted to provide a short couple of paras to you around our ‘statement of intent’ for this Group to serve as a conversation starter.
Defining Organisational character
An organisation’s character, like those of people, is determined by the values it adopts and pro-actively lives by. No-one imposes these values, they are self-determined. The values an organisation lives and operates by shapes its culture, frames the interactions it has with all stakeholders and ultimately how it acts. As with a person, if an organisation does not live by the values it purports to, then stakeholders are entitled to question the authenticity of the organisation. Any gap that exists between how an organisation says it acts and how it actually acts, or put more simply the difference between stakeholder perception and the organisation reality, creates potential reputation risks and other issues. With the explosion of digital technology, the impact of social media and increasing pressure on organisational transparency, the magnifying glass has never been so acutely focused on organisations and how they operate. Reputational risk is public relations territory and this is why practitioners should be involved in helping determine and/or test the ‘character’ or rather the values that underpin the character of an organisation. Does the organisation truly lived by its values? Does it have the proof points to back this up? And, do the values they stack up against what stakeholders expect of the organisation?
In our working group we want to come up with a practical tool (possibly called an Integrity Index) that helps organisations to identify if and how they live up to their values. The tool can be used not only as a measure of integrity, but as a means for stimulating discussions and actions that address issues that affect the purpose, strategy and operations of organisations. We believe this will provide a significant and practical outcome from the Mandate discussions and help further move public relations up the strategic value chain.