What People Think

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filed under Anecdotes and Stories, Diversity Leadership, Tips and Tools.

Jeff gave a glowing reference for a potential hire and then said, “If you decide to hire him, please give me a call back and let me know how he does for you.”

Except for this phone call, I had never met Jeff.  His request caught my attention.  In all my years of calling references, this invitation was a first and I told him so.

“It takes a whole lot of ‘attaboys’ to make up for one bad experience,” said Jeff.  He had put his own name on the line and wanted to make sure my experience was positive.

Reputation matters

Reputation is more influenced by negatives than positives. A study that relates e-Bay reputations to sellers’ final bid price illustrates Jeff’s insight.  Turns out, positive reputations (e-Bay reputational ratings) only mildly influenced the final bid price while negative reputations were both “highly influential and detrimental.”

Your organization’s reputation has tremendous sway in your success.  Good reputations attract top talent to fill positions as they come available. They build loyalty among both employees and customers. A good reputation also allows well-regarded companies to get top prices for their products, incur lower costs for goods and have more stable revenues. Reputation is a strategic asset, says author Charles Fombrun. “This is why, in the long run, it’s in a company’s self-interest to build a strong reputation by serving all of its constituents.”

There are a number of things that any organization can do to encourage trust, build credibility and act responsibly – all of which contribute to and protect a positive reputation.  In his conversation with me, Jeff illustrated one of the fundamentals. That is, treat every person in every interaction like they are a valued customer; like they matter to the success of your endeavor.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-person operation or an international corporation.  Even the most seemingly insignificant exchange is an opportunity.

Diversity’s role

Good diversity practices are, at their root, about serving all constituents. No surprise then that inclusive practices enhance reputation and that both are related to a better bottom line. A 2010 study titled “Investor Reactions to Diversity Reputation Signals” showed that a firm’s diversity reputation is “recognized and rewarded by the market” while earlier studies showed that investors bid up the prices of companies with good diversity reputations and that corporate reputations tend to endure over time.

Check out some other diversity tips and tools blogs here.

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