The brand barometer: January's winners and losers

25th Jan 2010

In a new series, Simon Thomas charts the fortunes of leading brands, listing the month's main winners and losers. This month those in the spotlight include IBM, British Airways and Goldman Sachs. So, how have they fared?

IBM was named UK's most gay-friendly employer by gay rights campaigner Stonewall in its 2010 Workplace Equality Index. As part of its commitment to corporate diversity, IBM provides an enhanced monitoring scheme for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender staff to ensure they're supported in career development and promotion as well as actively encouraging them to discuss issues via networking groups, leadership forums and task forces.

The difficulty in managing reputation is that it is determined by perception. A film showing police officers from Thames Valley Police using their riot shields to sledge down a snowy hill whilst on duty has appeared on YouTube and prompted nearly 600 comments, with most saying how good it was to see officers showing their human side. However, the officers were reprimanded by their employer for tobogganing at taxpayers' expense.

Rumour has it that Goldman Sachs (GS) is considering forcing its top bankers to donate part of their bonuses to charity. The investment bank is hoping that the gesture will minimise animosity when the bonuses are announced. Charitable donations are an important part of corporate social responsibility (with GS contributing £600k to the Haiti disaster fund) but there is something uncomfortable about ‘forcing’ employees to donate.

The decision by Cabin Crew and Unite members to attempt strike action over Christmas in response to cost-cutting measures and the subsequent media coverage of crew earnings meant there was little public sympathy for them. This inevitably had a negative impact on British Airways and its reputation.

Consumers overwhelmingly voted to bestow British Gas with the Money Mail’s ‘Wooden Spoon Award’ for the worst overall customer service in the UK during 2009. The energy giant received the dubious honour from the Daily Mail’s consumer affairs service after a poll of more that 10,000 UK residents gave it more votes than all of the other 153 shortlisted companies put together.

Simon Thomas is managing director of The Employer Reputation Company. His blog can be found at and TERC’s website is


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