All you need to know about reputation in 2020

Jessica Whitcutt
Founder & Chief | It's a Shovel
5th February 2020
Member roleChamber member

 The new year sees the release of numerous reputation / trust reports and countless trend predictions, issue watchlists and an avalanche of wise commentary. And that’s not even including Davos! So, I have taken it upon myself to save you the time of having to wade through the reams of copy and have curated this synopsis of what you need to know about reputation in 2020.

Managing reputation more important than ever

According to the Reputation Institute’s 2020 Global Trends Report, 70.2% of leaders of high reputation companies say that managing the reputation of their company is more important now than it has ever been.  

Which if you consider the depressing findings from the Edelman 2020 Trust Barometer that points out that none of the four main institutions (Media, Governments, Companies and NGOs) are trusted, means that something is wrong. Within this gloomy picture is worth noting that businesses enjoy a stronger reputation than governments which quite simply means that there is a growing expectation that business must lead on social and environmental challenges before being forced to do so by regulators – and companies that do will reap the benefits:

  • 66% of consumers identify as belief-driven or impact-conscious buyers
  • 73% of employees want opportunity to impact society
  • 75% expect business leaders to drive change rather than waiting for government


Fear is the order of the day

The majority of respondents in every developed market do not believe they will be better off in five years’ time, and more than half of respondents globally believe that capitalism in its current form is now doing more harm than good in the world. Add to that, 83% of employees are worried about losing their job, attributing it to the gig economy, a looming recession, a lack of skills, cheaper foreign competitors, immigrants who will work for less, automation or jobs being moved to other countries.

As we know, fear is one of the strongest human emotions and generally drives irrational behaviour. Companies need to work hard to bring a sense of security back to their stakeholders and therefore must focus on integrity, dependability and purpose, the ethical drivers which account for 76% of the trust capital of business, while competence accounts for only 24%.

The top trends lists

Unsurprisingly, there is much overlap between the various published “Top X” lists. We know what should be done to build sustainable businesses and economies, but the results show that we need to do – not pontificate - more. Here are a couple highlights:

Top 10 Global Reputation Trends (Reputation Institute)

  1. Higher purpose
  2. Data privacy
  3. Responsible investment
  4. Impact of technology
  5. Climate change
  6. Influencers
  7. Mistrust of big institutions
  8. Responsible sourcing
  9. CEO activism
  10. Inequality, diversity and inclusiveness


Top 10 Global Issues Influencing Trust (Edelman)

  1. A sense of inequity is undermining trust
  2. Capitalism is under fire
  3. Fears about the future are eclipsing hopes
  4. People are worried about the impact of technology
  5. Stakeholder engagement fosters long-term company success
  6. CEOs are expected to lead from the front
  7. Trust is built on competence and ethics
  8. No institution is seen as both competent and ethical
  9. Ethics is three times more important to company trust than competence
  10. Partnership between business and government on jobs is essential


Companies can no longer claim neutrality in the issues of our day… you’re either helping to create a sustainable future, or you’re out.

What’s at Stake

Intuitively we all know that companies with a strong reputation perform better. Exactly what the quantum of this is, depends on who you are asking, but the latest Weber Shandwick survey of global leaders gives the average as 63% of market value is due to reputation. The UK is quite surprisingly at the bottom of the scale, but this is possibly a reflection of a modest culture? The point remains, that it makes a significant bottom line difference and should be proactively managed at all stages of the business life cycle.


Having seen the writing on the wall years ago, we have harnessed the science of reputation and sustainability as well as the art of communications and connection and developed a simple model for businesses to build their reputation through purpose.

Through a series of discovery sessions and workshops we’ll create a strategy and implementation plan that works for you – and we’ll hold your hand all along the way to make sure it makes a difference.

Benefits of #ReputationWithPurpose

Our unique #ReputationWithPurpose model will help you define your purpose, embed this in your business, implement the actions required to make it authentic, and build your reputational capital.

The outcome?

  • Happier, more engaged and innovative employees
  • Enhanced support and understanding from stakeholders
  • More and more loyal customers
  • Increased resilience to business shocks
  • Better bottom line performance


Get in touch today to start your journey

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