Archive for the ‘Trust Research’ Category


by Barbara Brooks Kimmel

Now that the year has drawn to a close and a new one has begun, I am reminded of the similarities between the 2008 financial crisis and the market instability of 2022. In fact as Reuters recently reported, Wall Street ended the year with the biggest annual drop since 2008, as the global stock and bond markets shed more than $30 trillion dollars. And sadly as we head into 2023, the prevailing mood among both investors and the general public is fear, and fear is the opposite of trust. The chart below shows the outcome when trust replaces fear.

What lessons, if any, has the investment community learned over the past 14 years?

Consider these:

  1. Ten+ years past the 2008 financial crisis, little has changed to increase investor confidence in the ethical decision making practices of business leaders and the titans of Wall Street.
  2. It is not valuation, liquidity, or profits that keeps many investors on the sidelines. It is a lack of trust.
  3. We continue to see high profile business scandals, accounting coverups, out of touch compensation practices and a leveraged lending fiasco with no end in sight.
  4. Many investment professionals and investors are choosing to take their guidance from the wrong teachers who may be placing their own short-term interests first.

How do we learn from these lessons and move forward as we head into 2023? The solution is very simple. The industry must turn its attention to building trust.

Trustworthy companies outperform their peers with less risk

In the wake of the financial crisis I started a program called Trust Across America with the mission of helping organizations build trust. One of our first challenges was to make the “business case for trust” having been told that without proving that trust works, business leaders would ignore us. With the assistance of dozens of cross silo professionals, in 2012 we finalized a model to evaluate the trustworthiness of public companies, incorporating quantifiable metrics and data and named it the FACTS® Framework, an acronym that includes five drivers or indicators of trustworthy business behavior. They are:

  • Financial stability
  • Accounting conservativeness
  • Corporate governance
  • Transparency
  • Sustainability

When we began this research over ten years ago we were also told that a ten year tracked record would be required before serious consideration could be given to our model. Having recently reached that milestone, in June 2022 we retained Index One, a global index creation firm based in London to evaluate our FACTS® Framework versus major US indexes.” The results:

  • The top 50 FACTS® companies outperformed IWD by 47%, 15.46% vs.10.51%
  • The top 100 FACTS® companies outperformed IWD by 52.9%, 16.07% vs. 10.51% for IWD          
  • Index One also performed the same analysis using the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) ETF. 16.07% (50 companies) and 15.46% (100 companies) respectively vs. 15.27% for SPY.

Further evidence of the outperformance of trustworthy companies is contained in this ten+ year study published in November 2021, and covered in Investor’s Daily in May 2022. It is, by order of magnitude, the most comprehensive and data driven analysis available regarding the trustworthiness of public companies. It speaks to both the public and the financial industry’s understanding of trust, supports trust based investment decision making and enables targeted and simplified trust portfolio construction. 

Vast amounts of money remain parked in low yielding money market accounts and other underperforming investments. By delivering a time tested and “beyond reproach” strategy to investors combining the key drivers of corporate trustworthiness, Trust Based Investing can become the solution that both the industry and the public has been seeking.

Some may be curious as to how our Trust Index performed in 2022. We finished up close to 1% in a year when the S&P 500 declined almost 20%.

Don’t Take Our Word for the Importance of Trust

Building a trustworthy business will improve a company’s profitability and organizational sustainability. A growing body of evidence shows increasing correlation between trustworthiness and superior financial performance. Over the past decade, a series of qualitative and quantitative studies have built a strong case for senior business leaders to make stakeholder trust building a high priority. While none of these studies are perfect, their results are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.

  • Research shows that 30% of a company’s value is at risk where trust is broken with the public and external stakeholders. Those CEOs who have a proactive approach to crisis planning view simulation training and drills as an investment. They also see it as a way to test and build the trust and confidence of their teams. It hones and develops leadership and communication skills, builds coherence and cross-functional support. *McKinsey & Company research in Connect: How companies succeed by engaging radically with society – 2015 – John Browne, Robin Nuttall, Tommy Stadlen
  • According to the proprietary FACTS® Framework research conducted by Trust Across America-Trust Around the World, on average, and over the long-term, the “Top 10″ most trustworthy public companies have significantly outperformed the S&P 500 over 10 years, 5 years and 3 years.
  • Only 7 percent of Americans believe that major company CEOs have high ethical standards, and only 9 percent have a very favorable opinion of major companies. Only 42 percent Americans trust major companies to behave ethically, down from 47 percent last year. Public Affairs Council, 2018
  • Today, only a minority of millennials believe businesses behave ethically (48 percent vs 65 percent in 2017) and that business leaders are committed to helping improve society (47 percent vs 62 percent in 2017). Deloitte Millenial Survey 2018
  • In an innovation survey published by PriceWaterhouseCoopers in the early 2000s, trust was identified as a key characteristic of innovative companies

In conclusion

The business case for both trust and Trust Based Investing is being made. Trust Based Investing provides the following:

  • Companies have proven through a rigorous analysis that they are trustworthy and represent lower investment risk.
  • Investors can be assured that both business and investment decisions are being made ethically.
  • The most trustworthy companies have stable and strong investment returns.
  • A virtuous cycle is created. As investment money flows into the hands of these companies, other companies will want to follow suit and become more trustworthy.

In the words of Warren Bennis “Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.”

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is an author, speaker, product developer and global subject matter expert on trust and trustworthiness. Founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World she is author of the award-winning Trust Inc., Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset, Trust Inc., 52 Weeks of Activities and Inspirations for Building Workplace Trust and Trust Inc., a Guide for Boards & C-Suites. She majored in International Affairs (Lafayette College), and has an MBA (Baruch- City University of NY). Her expertise on trust has been cited in Harvard Business Review, Investor’s Business Daily, Thomson Reuters, BBC Radio, The Conference Board, Global Finance Magazine, Bank Director and Forbes, among others. 

To obtain more information please visit the contact page on our website or

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Trust Across America-Trust Around the World announces its

Most Trustworthy Public Companies 2022



Published annually for the past 12 years via our Corporate Integrity Monitor, these are a few highlights from our current rankings of the S&P 500.

  • We use our proprietary model called the FACTS® Framework to create the rankings.
  • Companies do not participate in our research nor do we receive compensation.
  • This year over 200 companies in the S&P 500 received a failing grade below 60%.
  • The average score of our “Top 10” companies this year is a 73%.
  • The 10 companies comprise 6 of 16 business sectors.

For more information contact

Trust Across Across America-Trust Around the World

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Trust Across America-Trust Around the World

announces its Most Trustworthy Public Companies 2021


Published annually in June via our Corporate Integrity Monitor, these are a few highlights from our current rankings:

  1. This is our 11th year tracking and publicly reporting on the trustworthiness of the largest public companies.
  2. Our proprietary model called the FACTS® Framework is used to analyze companies and create the rankings.
  3. Companies do not participate in our research nor do we receive compensation.
  4. This year we are reporting on the S&P 500. Microsoft is the highest ranked company to receive recognition.
  5. Since the financial crisis of 2008 FACTS® scores have remained relatively flat. This year 36% of companies in the S&P 500 received a failing grade below 60%.
  6. This year our “Top 10” companies have an average score of 76.4%.
  7. The 10 companies comprise 6 of 16 business sectors.
  8. Five of the 2021 “Top 10” were also honored in 2020.
  9. The “Top 10” companies have an average of 36.7% women on the Board, up from 33% in 2020.
  10. Five of the ten CEOs have MBAs and have been in their current position for 5 years or more.



Our research is, by order of magnitude, the most comprehensive and fact-based ongoing study of the trustworthiness of public companies. We perform a quarterly analysis and rank order by company, sector and market capitalization.

Our 2020 announcement can be accessed at this link. As of June 19, these companies collectively produced a 27.67% return to investors in approximately one year

For more information contact Barbara Kimmel, CEO, Trust Across America-Trust Around the World

Copyright 2021, Next Decade, Inc.

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Why should business leaders care about trust? This is why:


Performance of Trust Across America’s

Most Trustworthy Public Companies vs. the S&P 500 (2014-2019)


The chart above is the cumulative “Return on Trust” of America’s annual “Top 10” Most Trustworthy Public Companies over the past six years. Through its FACTS® Framework, Trust Across America has been analyzing, assembling and publicly reporting on this data for ten years.

If you are the CEO of a public company, or any company for that matter, who claims there is no Business Case for Trust, now may be the time to reconsider. Why DO business leaders require proof or ignore trust as their most valuable strategic advantage?

Leaders take trust for granted

Trust doesn’t just “happen.” It is not bestowed upon leaders by virtue of their title.  Trust is a learned competence and an intentional business strategy that must be crafted, practiced, modeled, and reinforced daily.

Leaders focus on the wrong metrics

Growing quarterly earnings, over reliance on sales quotas, focus on “old school” risk and/or “new school” ESG metrics will not satisfy the trust imperative that stakeholders are increasingly demanding. Neither will talking rather than acting on trust.

Leaders treat trust as a “soft skill”

Organizational trustworthiness is a hard currency. The proof is in the chart above.

Leaders are “trust reactive” 

Rarely do we hear proactive leadership discussions about building stakeholder trust. Instead, trust becomes a communications talking point only after a breach. This is both a missed and lost opportunity for leadership.

Leaders delegate trust

Trust is not a function of legal, compliance, HR, communications, or any other department. Boards of Directors and executive leadership teams must spearhead trust, making it central to the organization’s core values, so that all stakeholders can benefit.


Note: In 2010 Trust Across America introduced the FACTS® Framework, an EXTERNAL quantitative measurement of the corporate trustworthiness of America’s largest 2000+ US public companies. The Framework identifies companies whose leadership is going beyond doing just what is legal and compliant to choosing the right core values that satisfy all stakeholder needs. The FACTS® Framework is the most comprehensive and data driven ongoing study on the trustworthiness of public companies. We analyze companies quarterly and rank order showing trends by company, sector and market capitalization. Read more about the Framework at this link.

In 2018 Trust Across America-Trust Around the World’s Trust Alliance, a group of global trust scholars and practitioners, introduced its Trust Alliance Principles (TAP), and in 2019 our AIM Survey tool was created to guide leaders and teams in building trust INTERNALLY. It is based on universal behaviors that strengthen and weaken trust. To date, almost 150,000 global professionals have tapped into trust, and dozens of teams and organizations have used our simple survey tool to start a trust discussion.


Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World, whose mission is to help organizations build trust. Now in its 12th year, the program has developed two proprietary trust-evaluation tools, the latest is AIM Towards Trust. She also runs the world largest global Trust Alliance and is the editor of the award-winning TRUST INC. book series. Kimmel is a former consultant to McKinsey who has worked across multiple industries and with senior leadership. She holds a bachelor’s in international affairs from Lafayette College and an MBA from Baruch.

For more information visit our website at or contact us.



Purchase our books at this link


Copyright © 2020 Next Decade, Inc.



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Regardless of your occupation, job title, or the type of organization that employs you, have you ever considered the role trust plays in leadership, team and organizational success?

And are you helping to build (or deplete) your organization’s trust bank account?



If you haven’t given any or much thought to these questions, you certainly are not alone. In fact, most people view trust as a soft skill that can simply be taken for granted. But consider this for a moment; there has never been a more critical time to acknowledge and embrace the business case for trust.* In fact, study after study confirms that over the long-term, high trust organizations outperform their low trust competitors, with the following benefits:

  • Elevated employee engagement and retention
  • Reduced workplace stress
  • Enhanced decision-making
  • Innovative culture
  • More accountability, transparency and communication
  • Reduced costs

Using our definition of Trust as “an OUTCOME of principled behavior,” what we knew about the benefits of high trust in the past is currently amplified in our current business environment. Often, it takes a crisis to remind us what happens when trust is ignored or taken for granted.

Whether you are working in person or remotely, these are some characteristics of a high trust workplace environment. How many are currently present in yours?

  • Energy, motivation and engagement
  • Easy to hire and onboard new employees
  • Fun and laughter
  • High confidence, creativity and risk taking
  • Thriving innovation and productivity
  • Team alignment, sharing of information and credit, and quick forgiveness
  • Accountability and transparency as the norm
  • Willingness to be vulnerable and open, speak freely, and to listen
  • Positive team-building behaviors including gratitude, empathy and candor
  • A strong sense of “community” and shared values

How many of the following signs of low trust are present in your workplace? 

  • Lack of transparency
  • Distortions of truth
  • Disrespect
  • Hidden agendas
  • Poor communication
  • Low accountability
  • Short-term thinking
  • Inconsistent talk and actions

Leaders who ACKNOWLEDGE that low trust is a tangible risk have taken the first step in building a trust based team and/or workplace. And acknowledgement remains the greatest obstacle in most organizations as it requires direct leadership attention and input, and some degree of vulnerability. If this hurdle can be overcome, then it simply becomes a matter of IDENTIFYING the personal and interpersonal strengths and weakness that are either building trust or busting it. They can then be discussed, MENDED and tracked. Our Trust Across America program calls this AIM Towards Trust, and the tool is being easily adopted by enlightened leaders of teams and in organizations of all sizes and across industries, providing a path forward to high trust.

If a long term approach to elevating trust is not a leadership imperative at this time, all is not lost. Here are a few short-term ideas that any team can implement during the current crisis.

  • Consider hiring or appointing a remote-workforce manager.
  • If you didn’t already have one, a crisis-continuity plan should be created.
  • Be clear about all expected outcomes with the focus on results rather than hours worked.
  • Ensure that all team members have a line of sight between the goal of the company and his or her personal contribution in getting to the goal post.
  • Have frequent touch points with your team about work-related matters and also about personal needs. It’s critical not to overlook your employee’s mental health during these difficult times.
  • Establish a buddy system for new employees.
  • Get your workforce up to speed with technology, but don’t over invest in it or view it as a quick and easy trust “fix.” Set aside some of that budget to learn how to build trust. It may be a little more work but will produce much great rewards over the long-term.
  • Access our Trust Alliance Principles for additional ideas and remember the weakest behaviors break the trust chain. (Over 140,000 global professionals already have.)

Which organizations will emerge the strongest from COVID-19? Probably those whose leaders chose to place trust in the center of their business strategy before March 2020. In fact, leaders and their organizations who banked trust in advance of the pandemic are now being handsomely rewarded and will continue to be long into the future. It’s never too late to start thinking about the role of trust in leadership, team and organizational success. Why not today?

*To receive a copy of our two-page Business Case for Trust, please contact us.


Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World, whose mission is to help organizations build trust. Now in its 11th year, the program has developed two proprietary trust-evaluation tools. She also runs the world largest global Trust Alliance and is the editor of the award-winning TRUST INC. book series. Kimmel is a former consultant to McKinsey who has worked across industries and with many Fortune 500 CEOs. She holds a bachelor’s in international affairs from Lafayette College and an MBA from Baruch.

Copyright 2020 Next Decade, Inc.

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Today we conclude our 2020 Trust Insights series. Should you ever choose to think about the role trust plays on your team or in your organization, start by answering the question “Trust to do what?” and then consider the following:




  • All leaders and their team members must take ownership and be proactive about trust. Trust must first be well defined, never taken for granted or only talked about after a crisis. More on this subject at this link.
  • Trust is an outcome of principled behavior on the part of all leaders and team members. Access our Trust Alliance Principles to learn more. The weakest behaviors break the trust chain.
  • Leadership effectiveness should be evaluated by the internal environment of trust that has been created and maintained. Learn how you can evaluate it.
  • Trust cannot be regulated or delegated to a “department.” Without shared values that foster a culture of trust, leaders defer to legal and compliance to enforce rules. Read “Trust: Going Beyond Compliance & Ethics.”
  • No organization is sustainable without a foundation of trust, and there are no shortcuts.
  • Trust in leadership and among teams cannot be measured by public opinion polls. Don’t confuse external “perception of trust” surveys with internal surveys of trust.
  • A company cannot create authentic brand trust without first building trust internally.
  • If you are a leader who is not willing to personally do the work to build trust, don’t talk about it as if you are. Read “Ten One Liners for the Low Trust Leader.”
  • The only way to build trust is to behave your way into it. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to trust, and there are many work arounds.
  • Ignoring trust as an intentional business strategy presents enormous enterprise risk. The benefits of high trust are too numerous to ignore.

I hope you have enjoyed our 26-week Trust Insights series.

Before you leave, Tap Into Trust and complete our 1 minute/1 question quiz. Find out how the level of trust in your workplace compares to over 500 others. 

Have you reviewed how our workshops are helping teams and organizations just like yours elevate trust? Schedule an ONLINE webinar today.

Did you miss our previous 2020 Trust Insights? Access them at this link.

Contact us for more information on elevating trust on your team or in your organization or email me directly:

Copyright 2020, Next Decade, Inc.

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Trust Across America is pleased to announce the results of its annual study of the trustworthiness of America’s largest public companies. For more information contact Barbara Brooks Kimmel, CEO.

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According to these recent Gallup polls, American’s trust in government is at an all time low. The same can be said for American’s trust in media.


Two questions. If Americans don’t trust the government to handle problems, and they don’t trust mass media then:

  1. “Why are American’s placing trust in their elected officials to make the “right” decisions for them during this crisis?
  2. “Why are American’s now trusting the mass media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly?

What are your thoughts? What will be the “state of trust” in government and media when this crisis ends? 

Post your thoughts here or contact me directly at 


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The benefits of high trust are too numerous for leaders to continue to ignore.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel, Founder Trust Across America-Trust Around the World



Study after study confirms that over the long-term, high trust organizations outperform their low trust competitors. These are a few of the benefits:

  • Elevated employee engagement and retention
  • Reduced workplace stress
  • Enhanced decision-making
  • Innovative culture
  • More accountability, transparency and communication
  • Reduced costs

Why do most leaders choose to ignore trust or take it for granted?

The greatest challenges to elevating trust are the inability to delegate it, and having the right tools to fix it. Trust is a top down imperative that cannot be addressed via regulation and requires its own budget. It is not a Corporate Social Responsibility or “purpose” project, nor a compliance, human resources or marketing function, but rather an intentional business strategy adopted by leadership and practiced and reinforced daily. According to the Business Roundtable, vanishing are the days of low transparency, “short-term” thinking and maximization of shareholder value at the expense of other stakeholders. And as low trust continues to make the headlines across the globe, organizations that choose trust as an intentional strategy will continue to outperform their peers.

Take a look at some of the more recent study results:

  • On average, Trust Across America’s (that’s us) annual “Top 10″ most trustworthy public companies have outperformed the S&P 500 by over 25% since 2012 (June, 2018). This study  has also been referenced by Gartner and in the Harvard Business Review.
  • Salesforce Research (2018) surveyed over 6,700 consumers and business buyers globally to better understand the modern customer mindset. 95% of customers say that if they trust a company, they’re more likely to be loyal patrons.
  • PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey (2018) asked consumers which factors, other than price, influence their decision to shop at a particular retailer. More than one in three (35%) ranked ‘trust in brand’ as among their top three reasons. 

  • Another study looking at workplace trust and the impact on employee wellbeing reveals that more than half (53%) of employees considered it to be a major factor in whether they stayed or left a company. More research on the link between trust and wellness in this recent SmartBrief article.
  • According to Gallup, when employees don’t trust organizational leadership, their chances of being engaged are one in 12. But when that trust is established, the chances of engagement skyrocket to better than one in two. That’s more than a six-fold increase.

These references are bolstered by dozens of others. Short-sighted business leaders may continue to challenge the “return on trust” but the evidence is mounting. There is not only a business case but also a financial case for trust.

How can leaders elevate trust proactively instead of addressing it after a crisis and playing catch up?

It requires moving beyond talk to acknowledgement followed by ownership and action. Late last year Trust Across America-Trust Around the World introduced a quick and simple survey tool called AIM Towards Trust and Workshop opportunities for teams and organizations of all sizes and in any industry to begin a trust discussion and address the challenges that are holding back trust. The survey has been successfully administered in dozens of teams, organizations and in advance of conferences and workshops. Readers interested in reviewing its various applications can learn more at this link.

Making the decision to elevate trust is not easy.  It requires both introspection on the part of leadership and a certain amount of vulnerability. Virtues like trust, the ones that really matter, must be treated as business imperatives for those who are seeking long-term success. Waiting for the inevitable crisis (most are the result of low trust) to make the old and tired PR speech, declaring that trust must be rebuilt may be the most popular choice, but as we have seen, it’s also the most expensive and least effective. Just ask Wells Fargo.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World. Now in its eleventh year, the mission is to help organizations build trust. That’s all we do. 

Copyright 2020, Next Decade, Inc.



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Ideally, an internal C&E team will have great people skills and the ability to communicate and collaborate with all stakeholder groups. But if the team is ignoring the underlying principles essential to building high trust, the C&E function will be ineffective AND responsible for increasing enterprise risk.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel, CEO Trust Across America-Trust Around the World

The head of Compliance & Ethics at a large global public company recently engaged us to administer our AIM Towards Trust assessment within their 20+ member team. Unlike others who take trust for granted or consider it a soft skill, this one acknowledged that internal team trust was lacking and wanted to find out why. They sought to identify trust weaknesses and strengths, and to begin a trust discussion with the goal of remedying the weaknesses, celebrating strengths and reducing risk.

Our one question/one minute assessment is based on our universal principles called TAP (Tap Into Trust), developed over the course of a year by many of the world’s leading trust scholars and practitioners, accessed almost 65,000 times, and now in use in dozens of teams and organizations.

The survey results are displayed below. Accountability, Transparency and Respect were identified as the principles that needed immediate attention and, armed with this knowledge, the C&E Team leader was provided with additional do-it-yourself tools to address the weaknesses.

This leader believes that the responsibility to elevate organizational trust lies with their team, and is now expanding the assessment, bringing it into other functional areas within the organization to identify and remediate trust gaps. 

High trust C&E teams are role models, supporting employee and customer wellbeing which, in turn fosters faster company growth and achievement of organizational goals, while minimizing risk. 

What do you think the trust profile of your C&E team would look like, or would you rather not know?

While your colleagues are embracing trust as the NEW currency, are you choosing to ignore it?

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust using a proprietary assessment tool called AIM Towards Trust. A former consultant to many Fortune 500 CEOs and their firms, Barbara also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance, and is the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and TRUST! Magazine. Barbara holds a BA in International Affairs and an MBA. For more information contact

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc. No part of this document may be reproduced without permission.



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