Social networking and reputational risk in the workplace

Over 6 months ago Deloitte released their 2009 report on ethics and the workplace this time focusing on impact social computing is having on reputation risk for organisations. The results are very interesting, and given the recent background checking and social media discussions, they also impact individuals and their online reputation.

reputation

Let’s review the result:

  • 74% of employees said it’s easy to damage a company’s reputation on social media
  • 58% of executives agree that reputational risk & social networking should be a board room issue, but only 15% say it actually is
  • 53% of employees think employers should stay out of their social networking pages
  • 40% of executives disagree with employees and 30% informally monitor sites
  • 61% of employees said even if employers did monitor they would not change their online behavior, because they know it’s not private, and have already made significant adjustments to their online profiles
  • Almost 50% of employees said they would not change their online behavior if their company had a policy
  • 27% of employees do not consider the ethical consequences

These figures worry me because to quote James Lovell; “Houston, we have a problem”. (Yes I know he did not actually say that but the real quote won’t work.)

74% of employees agree it’s easy to damage a company’s reputation on social media but only 27% actually think about it.

So let’s break this down

For me this calls for more education of people about their activities online so let’s re-look at The Mother Test:

  1. Make sure you have a consistent profile you are willing to show your mother. It is very hard if not impossible to remain completely anonymous online, even if you never use your real name. For example I know of several bloggers who blog under anonymous names, but I also know who they really are.
  2. Make sure you don’t do/say anything you would not be proud to show your mother. You might not want your mother to see what you have done, but if you had to show her and example yourself would you be proud of what you had done?
  3. Make sure you don’t post pictures/videos you would not be willing to show your mother. Like doing or saying things online, if you had to explain yourself could you and would you be proud of what you have done?
  4. Is your reputation online one your mother would be proud of? You might not specifically say or post anything that is suspect but we all have a reputation, even on sites that are password protected.
  5. Would your activities online make your mother trust you? Trust is the ultimate test of what you are doing and defines your integrity, ability, or character.

(Image: Flickr)