This Month in Reputation: Victorious Female Athletes, Another Data Breach, and the Moon

In one of the hottest months on record, pharmaceutical companies, Capital One, and even Google were feeling the reputational heat for drug prices, data breaches, and labor practices. The US Women’s National Team, on the other hand, blazed a new trail by winning an unprecedented fourth Women's World Cup trophy, and made major headway in their fight for equal pay. As a nation, the United States remembered the glory of the moon landing, which occurred 50 years ago this month.

Victory in the World Cup gives USWNT not only glory, but leverage

Early in the month, the U.S. Women’s National Team secured their fourth Women's World Cup title (the most of any nation) and also a serious boost in their fight for equal pay from their national federation, U.S. Soccer. Following their triumph over the Netherlands in Lyon on July 7th, the crowd at Parc Olympique Lyonnais started chanting “Equal pay! Equal pay!”

After all, it’s hard for the federation to claim the women’s team brings in less revenue when their home jerseys have now sold more than any other in U.S. soccer history, the women's final drew more viewers than the men's final the year before, and they’re greeted everywhere by large crowds of adoring fans. Public pressure has come to the point where their male counterparts, who had long been silent on the issue, have now come out in support of the ladies and their fight. We even saw major corporations like Procter and Gamble standing behind the team with full support and a major donation.

Coach Jill Ellis, who has led this US team to two straight World Cup titles, decided it was time to hang up her boots in the wake of this unprecedented success. Who could blame her? It’s unlikely her place in the history of U.S. soccer will be threatened any time soon.

Google tops the list as most reputable employer; loses ground on trust and transparency

The Reputation Institute released its 2019 Global Workplace Study, and Google held onto its spot as the most reputable employer worldwide, edging out Microsoft and The LEGO Group, who were the only other two companies that earned strong global ratings.

However, it’s been a tough year for Google, and while they are still held in high esteem, that esteem is not quite as high as it was a few years ago. Issues around the treatment of contract workers, the handling of sexual assault claims, and its collaboration with the U.S. Military on drones has damaged its reputation among global employees.

“Demonstrating concern for the health and well-being of employees is where many companies fall behind. Loss of employee trust is the result of broken promises whereas great companies understand that fairness and transparency are key to success,” according to our CEO, Kylie Wright-Ford.

Pharmaceuticals feel the heat from the opioid crisis and rising drug costs

Every age needs a corporate villain, and pharmaceutical companies have now taken on the banner that tobacco companies ignominiously held for so long. The opioid crisis has cost thousands of lives, many in some of the poorest and most desperate areas of the U.S. Elsewhere, people struggle to afford the medicines they need to stay alive. Taken together, it makes the industry look craven and greedy, and far more concerned with profits than people. In this year’s U.S. Pharma RepTrak study, only two pharmaceutical companies, Bayer AG and Roche, managed to receive strong ratings.

The rest of the trailing pack were either average or weak

Fifty years since man walked the moon, its legacy remains strong

It’s now been half a century since U.S. astronauts did what was once thought impossible: taking a stroll on the surface of the moon. That mission changed our understanding of what was possible, as well as our understanding of the cosmos and how it came to be. 

There are plans to return to the moon in 2024, though a lot of work needs to be done for that to happen. (It's estimated the original Apollo mission required the contributions of 400,000 people.) Regardless, the moon landing remains a testament to what humans can do when they aim high and work together. Even now, pie-in-the-sky ideas are known as “moon shots.” 

Capital One is just the latest in an increasingly long series of data breaches

It’s the same old story, but just a little different: A financial services company (a bank, a credit card company, etc) announces a major breach happened in the not-so-distant past, and exposed the personal information of thousands of customers. 

This time, it’s credit card giant Capital One, who announced this month that a hacker—thought to be a lone rogue engineer named Paige A. Thompson, who then went and bragged about her exploits on social media—had accessed the Social Security numbers and linked bank accounts of roughly 220,000 U.S. and Canadian members. The hack happened in late March. 

News of this latest hack coincides with the swarming of the Equifax website for $125 vouchers for victims of a previous major data breach—so many applied for the money that they, in fact, will not receive. Instead, for their troubles, most of these affected customers will get only a few dollars. 

In our 2019 Reputation Macro-Trends report for executives, we included data and security breaches as a top concern among Chief Communications and Marketing Officers. These data breaches affect not only the customers’ whose data is made public and put at risk, but also the companies that experience the data breach in terms of "customer loyalty, security, reputation, and cost.”

Review our RepTrak Reports to learn more about the data and insights we deliver to our global partners facing many of daily challenges.
 

Melanie LoBue 
Senior Director of Global Marketing
Reputation Institute
@melanielobue

 
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