Building top-flight corporate reputations is a multi-tiered process that companies must integrate in each of their functions.
(See "Staircase to Success.") Such reputations do not grow quickly or accidentally; rather, they come about by having each
- deliver on product and service pro-mises in core competency areas
- attract top talent to build corporate culture
- fight stereotypes that would otherwise cloud corporate reputation
- manage reputation-damaging corporate crises
- establish good corporate citizenship through environmental and social responsibility.
Most companies give lip service to social and environmental responsibility, but many fail to act on it. That failure will
have an increasing effect on corporate reputation, because today's consumers and investors want to associate themselves with
good stewards of the public trust.
Baxter Healthcare's stance on environmental conservation is a model of how to do it right. Based on a code of ethics that
dictates its facilities operate in a socially responsible manner, the company's environmental, health, and safety (EHS) initiatives
contribute to sustainable development by preventing workplace injuries and illnesses, reducing waste, and properly managing
risks. The company also believes that the environmentally beneficial initiatives it undertook in the last seven years contributed
significantly to its economic success.
Staircase to Success
Baxter's 71 environmental management employees spearheaded the following campaigns, with measurable results:
- to meet the company's 2005 air toxics reduction goal (reached in 2001)
- to achieve ISO 14001 certification for all manufacturing, research and development, and other major operations by the end
- to save costs. Between 1993 and 2001, environmental initiatives saved the company a total of $75 million, $12 million in 2000
- to reach out to the community.
Baxter facilities participated in almost 150 EHS-related community events in 2000:
- 29 educational projects for area elementary, middle, and high schools in 2001
- 20 conservation programs
- 18 clean-up events
- 63 projects with government agencies, organizations, and special-interest groups.
Those examples show that reputation-savvy companies have long understood the importance of integrity and ethical conduct.
That understanding has led them to
- cultivate trust through customer interaction
- build a people-friendly reputation through community outreach programs and environmental measures
- develop a corporate culture that counteracts industry stereotypes
- establish systems to manage inevitable crises.
That kind of systematic approach to reputation management gives pharma companies the ability to overcome tough times and maximize
gains during good times. A positive reputation creates shareholder value, attracts and retains high-quality employees, and
minimizes the impact of crises on company operations.