G8 once again brings onto the agenda the issue of large corporations exploiting tax loopholes. David Cameron has promised to "sweep away the secrecy" first in the
Companies recently hitting
The question really is whether or not they should be concerned about the reputational fallout. When it comes to justifying relative wealth and market dominance, mega corporates have to work pretty hard. They have large, dedicated brand and customer analysis teams. Twitter is a carefully orchestrated marketing channel and Facebook either a customer service hotspot or a brand love-in, depending on the day.
So the idea they don't care about reputational damage is a non-starter; of course they do. But caring enough to pay attention, and actively managing the risk, are different things.
Repeatedly taking advantage of the rules in a way people find ethically unacceptable chips away at a brand.
Risk in these situations comes down to whether people will change their behaviour as a result of what they feel about the brand, and also, importantly, who they tell about their experiences and opinions.
As a digital strategist immersed in the charity sector, it's easy to see the way people react to what they consider financial impropriety or profligacy where they would expect it to be the exact opposite. Even in areas where expenditure is perfectly justified, there can still be repercussions because people demand transparency.
Do people expect cunning practices more from corporates than non-profits. Yes, they do. Does that mean it won't affect the brand reputation of those companies? No. But it's probably a longer term risk where repeatedly taking advantage of the rules in a way people find ethically unacceptable chips away at a brand.
In a period of prolonged economic difficulty, where recession and difficult personal situations mean people are working hard to make ends meet, it isn't surprising that these efforts of globalised businesses aren't well received. People are more attuned to money matters because they are front of mind.
If what we are seeing in a sector where people are really passionate about how money flows, is received and spent by the non-profit brands they love starts to transfer into the world of big commercial brands, then those brands could probably do with a rethink of their risk assessments.