What Is Reputational Risk?

When companies and businesses start operations, they may not be profitable. However, once they develop a customer base and good supplier relationships, they can earn more. These are things that come due to a company’s reputation, often termed as goodwill. Developing a good reputation is crucial for a company’s success in both the long- and short-term. However, companies may also damage their reputation sometimes.

What is Reputational Risk?

Reputational risk represents the dangers or threats that may damage a company’s goodwill. It comes from both internal and external factors. However, most commonly it stems from within a company and its operations. Companies may, as a result of their actions, create reputational risk. Similarly, a company’s employees may also give rise to reputational risk indirectly. Lastly, any entities that a company deals with can also tangentially affect its reputation.

Reputational risks can create a lot of problems for a company. For example, it may result in a loss of customer base or good supplier relationships. It can also impact a company’s revenues and profitability. Reputational risks can come from actions, such as security and safety issues, ethics violations, poor products or services quality, fraudulent activities, and much more.

Regardless of the sources of reputational risk, companies can experience lower profitability. Sometimes, being associated with these activities even if they haven’t committed such actions can cause issues.

How does Reputational Risk work?

The main impact of reputational risks on a company is on its goodwill. It is the relations and reputation that a company has accumulated over the past due to its operations. Companies may even have to pay additional money to reduce the impact on their reputation. Usually, companies that participate in activities that others may view as unethical face the highest reputational risk.

However, companies don’t need to participate in these activities directly to suffer due to reputational risk. It may also arise due to a company’s employees behaving in their own interest or participating in unethical activities. For example, fraud within a company caused by its employees can result in reputational risk.

Similarly, the relationships that companies develop can also bring harm to them. For example, if a company deals with a supplier that participates in unethical or fraudulent activities can also result in reputational risk. Likewise, companies may face this risk from their subsidiaries, joint ventures, and other related entities.

Why is Reputational Risk crucial?

Identifying and mitigating reputational risk is crucial for companies. Usually, companies can use various control measures to manage these risks. Due to the easier availability of information about a company’s operations on the internet, reputational risk is more crucial than ever. Sometimes, these can result in instant implications, which may cause a lot of harm.

Companies need to take a proactive approach toward reputational risk. Therefore, they need to identify the risks that can result in damage to their goodwill promptly. It is one of the risks where companies can benefit from preventing rather than controlling them. In case they fail to prevent reputational risk, they can face widespread implications.


Reputational risk is crucial to a company’s goodwill, which it develops through years of operations. Reputational risks can come from several sources. These may include a company’s operations, its employees, or its associated parties. Companies need to identify these risks promptly and take a proactive approach to prevent them.

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