MADISON, NJ—American corporations need to articulate a set of ethical principles that balance the interests of all stakeholders; ensure investors receive full and timely information about the company; and compensates all employees in accord with their contributions to the company’s success.
Those were among the recommendations stemming from a coalition of public relations groups—including the Council of Public Relations Firms, the Arthur W. Page Society and the Public Relations Society of America—which met in New Jersey last week and issued what they described as a “challenge to corporate America.”
In addition, companies need to create a process for transparency and disclosure that is appropriate for their company and industry, including a senior oversight committee, culture audits and consistent messaging; and make trust and ethics a board-level governance issue, establishing a formal system of measuring trust that touches all parts of their organizations.
“These are high-level concepts that the Coalition believes could have material impact on the challenge of restoring trust in the corporate leadership of the United States,” says James Murphy, global managing director of marketing and communications for Accenture and chairman of the Public Relations Coalition. “The core of the recommendation is to ask corporate leaders to create or reinforce an ‘environment of accountability’ in their organizations. Without a visible, concrete and measurable commitment, society will continue to mistrust our corporate leadership.
“It is important to take these initiatives and disseminate them to corporate leaders throughout America within our respective U.S. members, to our clients and ultimately, to the American public at large. As significant as today’s discussions were, it won’t mean much unless this dialogue continues in boardrooms across America. Corporate leaders are receiving a lot of advice today from many sources. This thinking is coming from the most senior professionals in our country and those from around the globe who are working at the core of these issues. I am confident these recommendations have the power to have significant impact.”
The summit meeting on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University here drew more than 50 senior professionals, officers from each participating organization. Among those represented were the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College; the Corporate Communication Institute at Fairleigh Dickinson University; the Council of Communication Management; the Global Public Affairs Institute; the Institute for Public Relations; the International Association of Business Communicators; the National Investor Relations Institute; and the Public Relations Society of America.
The Coalition will also be publishing a position paper that will expand on the collective views of its members.