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Reputational Threats for Growing Organisations  

Photo 273133350 © Andrii Yalanskyi |

Whether you are soon to become a tech unicorn, a charity that has received major funding and is about to expand or a school that has seen significant year-on-year pupil increases growing organisations have many reasons to celebrate.   

But it is important to remember the caveat that with growth comes increased reputational risk. Greater visibility, a rising profile, evolving stakeholder needs and growing employee numbers all contribute to a heightened exposure to reputational threats and media scrutiny for growing organisations. 

From social media scandals to data breaches, the landscape is fraught with potential pitfalls that can tarnish an organisation’s reputation and stunt promising growth.  

So, what are some of the key reputational threats facing growing companies? 

Behavioural Issues

Allegations of staff misconduct and toxic cultures are a trend which has been seen particularly in start-ups, as the meteoric rise of companies allows old habits and inappropriate cultures to fester unchecked. This issue is pertinent to any growing organisation as they strive to ensure that bad habits do not become cultural cornerstones of a developing organisation and appropriate workplace values are not overlooked or disregarded amidst the positive growth and transformative change. Allegations of a toxic culture and staff mistreatment at Brewdog, following its whirlwind rise in the brewing industry, highlighted the fact that growing companies can be managed informally and practices can remain which do not translate as they become larger.  As organisations grow rapidly it is important that this growth is coincided with the development of strong HR structures, robust code of conduct policies and trustworthy reporting mechanisms. Having clear protocols for handling internal behavioural issues and communicating with stakeholders can help minimise reputational damage in the event of a crisis.

Social Media Missteps

In the age of viral content and increasingly polarising online discussion, one ill-conceived tweet or insensitive post can lead to a PR nightmare and severe reputational damage. Growing organisations must be vigilant about their social media activity, ensuring that all content aligns with agreed upon social media guidelines. Social media guidelines should also be implemented for employees and be clearly signposted throughout the year. What are staff allowed post about international conflicts on their personal pages? Is the organisation account allowed follow political groups? Do we recognise celebratory days for movements through special posts? Growing companies ought to ask themselves these questions and develop clear guidelines as they seek to protect their reputation through what is an essential yet sometimes unforgiving channel of communication. 

Data Breaches and Cybersecurity Incidents

In this digital age, data breaches have become a significant concern for organisations of all sizes. However growing organisations are acutely exposed to these issues as amidst all the exciting growth the procedural and regulatory requirements of data and cyber security can fall down the pecking order of priorities. By their nature growing companies will be quickly thrust into handling more data than they are accustomed to, and adopting responsible and appropriate practices early on will help limit the risk of a breach down the line and the reputational damage that comes with this.  Investing in robust cybersecurity measures, conducting regular audits, and being transparent with customers about data security protocols are essential steps in mitigating this risk. 

Growing organisations are uniquely exposed to risk, as their processes and policies may not be robust nor developed enough to handle their increasing size, importance and profile. However, by adopting a proactive approach to risk and reputation management, growing organisations can embed these practices to safeguard their reputation and avoid any pitfalls that may derail their upward trajectory. 

If you would like to learn more about Alder’s reputational management services, you can contact [email protected] for more information.


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