Archive

Archive for the ‘Risk’ Category

Jun
30

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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May
12

 Geert, thank you for participating in our 2020 Trust Insights series. What is your trust insight?

Ethics and compliance officers need to stimulate and assist management to establish a culture of trust.  Geert Vermeulen

 

 

 

 

Can you expand a bit on this important insight?

If you want to create a culture where people feel free to speak, hold people accountable, managers set a good example, where employees are engaged with the organization and feel that they are treated fairly, you are basically working towards establishing a culture of trust. This means that as management, you should not only focus on satisfying shareholders, but also on your other stakeholders, starting with your employees.

By establishing a culture of trust, where people are not afraid to admit errors and mistakes, are able to challenge decisions, where they openly discuss potential problems as well as new ideas, you will not only have fewer long-lasting problems but you will also stimulate a more innovative culture. As a result, you will have a better reputation as a company.

Therefore, you will be better able to attract high-potentials to come and work for you and clients will be more inclined to buy something from your brand. And as a result of fewer problems, more innovation and a better reputation, you will see that you will have better financial results in the long term. So, in the end, this also benefits your shareholders. It’s a win-win situation in the long term.

 

Can you provide a real life example of a trust “challenge” where your insight has been effectively applied.

I was working as an ethics & compliance officer at a multinational and found out that in a certain country people were making corrupt payments. We stopped the payments and asked an outside party to conduct an investigation. Unfortunately, the quality of the investigation was unsatisfactory and in the end, I decided to continue the investigation myself together with a colleague. So, we traveled to this country to interview people, analyze what had gone wrong and submitted a report to the management in which we advised to take a number of corrective and preventive measures, including firing a few people and taking disciplinary measures against others. Virtually all of our recommendations were adopted. As a result, people in the local organizations looked at me as the guy who got their colleagues fired and were frightened to talk with me. But that is not what I wanted, I wanted people to come to me with their challenges and issues, so we can have a discussion and try to find solutions together. We, (the management and I,) basically had to restore trust. But the question was how. We decided to use all the tools that we could think of.

We started by confessing that we (regional/global management and the compliance department) had also dropped the ball and had not been sufficiently involved in this country, despite the fact that it was identified as a high-risk country. Therefore, we invested in the local compliance function and I also visited the country more often. We encouraged everyone to come forward with anything that had happened in the past that they were concerned about, trying to create a culture of openness and transparency. And if they had not been the main driver behind the unethical behavior, they would not get fired or face any negative consequences whatsoever for coming forward. We offered all employees free access to external lawyers for a number of days. They could ask confidential advice and we would pay for that, without knowing who asked what.

Now that the corrupt payments had been stopped, some of our employees received death threats from former clients. After a careful deliberation we decided to step into that discussion, taking away the authority to make payments from the local country office and by communicating that if anyone still had problems with that, they could have a discussion with somebody from the head office (me), herewith exposing ourselves to these threats as well, demonstrating personal commitment. I have to admit that, since I have children, I have become less brave and more careful, so this was quite uncomfortable. Luckily nobody showed up to have that discussion.

We personally visited some of the more problematic locations to actually see with our own eyes what was going on. We organized dilemma sessions with the employees to explore potential solutions and panel sessions with senior management where employees could ask anything. At the same time, we launched a marketing campaign, organized a compliance quiz and handed out rewards. And to conclude the marketing campaign, we organized a party.

We knew that we would lose a number of clients and were prepared to make a loss. Much to our surprise our experience proved that, as we profiled ourselves as the most compliant supplier in the market, we obtained new clients and our annual results in the end actually showed a growth of both revenue and profit. We put a lot of effort into restoring the trust and I think that we managed to succeed. That said, keeping the trust also requires a lot of work and is something that should not be taken for granted.

 

Generally, do you think the global “trust” climate is improving or worsening? What actions are making it better or worse?

This is a difficult question. If I look at the political climate across the world I am not very positive. I notice that quite a few leaders with a nationalist agenda are elected, taking protective measures. Not trusting other countries. Blaming the opposition. 

At the same time, I also see changes in the business world, like the recent emphasis on ESG, as expressed by BlackRock and other major investors, as well as the declaration from the Business Round Table in the US. Business leaders are realizing that they are losing credit from society and they release statements that they want to balance the interests of the shareholders with the interests of the other stakeholders. But do we see that happening in practice? I guess it is still too early to tell. In The Netherlands we have seen leaders like Paul Polman from Unilever and Feike Sijbesma from DSM making their companies more sustainable and at the same time also delivering better business results. The question is what their successors will do now that they have stepped down. And whether other companies will adopt a similar strategy.

More importantly, I am very optimistic about the younger generations, the millennials, who seem to have another attitude. In the US we have seen employees starting protests against their companies who don’t seem to follow their own value statements. I have not seen that in other countries yet, but I do notice (anecdotally) that also in Europe the young generations are less interested in money, possessions and wealth and more interested in experiences and doing something meaningful with their life.

 

Many claim we have a crisis of trust. Do you agree?

Yes, I do. Countries seem to be less inclined to support each other. Free trade agreements are re-negotiated. The value of international institutions is challenged. We spend less money on development aid. The US and Europe stop refugees who want to enter their countries looking for a better life. We have free movement of goods and capital but not of people. If anything bad happens, foreigners are blamed. In the US the Democrats and republicans are so divided that it is hardly impossible to reach a compromise. This while a good democracy also takes the interests of the minorities into account.

Instead, we see an ‘us against them’ attitude and people hardly seem to be able to listen to each other, feel empathy with other people, trying to understand their situation and line of thinking. And this happens at a time where we are more connected than ever through social media and global supply chains. The reality is that we are all in this together. Trust in vital institutions like journalists and scientific institutes is waning. However, I also see some positive trends, as described above.

 

Geert, how has your membership in our Trust Alliance benefitted you professionally?

The Trust Alliance inspires me. I learn from other people and it is always nice to meet likeminded people to exchange thoughts and ideas. I have also used the outcomes of the FACTS(R) Framework to support my theory that ethical/trustworthy organizations achieve better business results in the long term. I use that in my articles, talks and training sessions.

In The Netherlands I have been active in the Association of Dutch Compliance Professionals. I am the former Chairman. I launched and still chair the expert group on Financial Economic Crime and am a member of the expert group on Culture and Behavior, where I lead the internationalization effort. This last group developed a toolbox with some 40 tools that ethics and compliance officers can use to (assist management to) influence the company culture and the behavior of individuals. We are going to include Trust Across America-Trust Around the World’s AIM Survey tool in our toolbox this year.

 

Geert, thank you so much for your time and more importantly for your commitment to elevating organizational trust. What would you like our audience to know about you?

My mission is to help organizations conduct business in an ethical and compliant way by reducing risk and stimulating better business. I specialize in establishing and improving ethics and compliance programs in general and anti-corruption programs in specific. In 2016 I founded ECMC: Ethics & Compliance Management & Consulting to provide compliance training, consulting and interim ethics & compliance management. I also speak and write on ethics and compliance.
Most of my experience was obtained in-house as the Chief Compliance Officer Aon EMEA and the Global Head of Compliance of Damco, the freight forwarding arm of Maersk. I have been the President of the Dutch Compliance Officers Association, the founder/chair of the expert group on Financial Economic Crime of the Association, a member of the expert group on Culture and Behavior and a member of the Professional Advisory Committee of the Law Compliance Minor at The Hague University. I am the recipient of the 2020 National Compliance Award.

 

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 hundreds of 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: barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

Copyright 2020, Next Decade, Inc.

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Apr
28

This week’s Trust Insights welcomes our Trust Council members who joined us in addressing the following question:

Is the Apple/Google Contact Tracing Plan Worthy of our Trust?

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

 

During these trying times, Apple and Google claim to have temporarily placed their corporate competitiveness on hold to begin collaborating on at least one very large data project. It’s called contact tracing, “the process of tracking down the people with whom infected patients have interacted, and making sure they get tested or go into quarantine’ according to this recent NPR article. The Apple/Google “alliance” will expand the reach of existing contract tracing capabilities. This initiative has raised many questions and multiple collective eyebrows, not only for our trust and ethics subject matter expert community, but also for the general public, and for good reasons. For example:

  • Why should the public now trust the tech giants with their data when these companies have not proven themselves trustworthy in the past?
  • Should all trust concerns be set aside in the interest of global health? 

Who better to ask than Trust Across America’s  Trust Council? Our council is comprised of senior members of our Trust Alliance who are some of the world’s leading trust subject matter experts.

What we already know about trusting the tech giants

Bart Alexander shared a quick retrospective on the state of tech’s visibility into our private lives: 

Providers such as Apple and Google already have comprehensive information about our location.  Even with location services (GPS) off, they have visibility into the relative strength of every wifi signal and cell signal. From years of collection including through  Google’s fleet of Street View cars, they can correlate that triangulated location with GPS.  With other data bases, they can determine if we are at home, at a shop or even a medical facility.  Google recently reached a $13 million settlement on the use of Street View cars for MAC address collection that goes back a decade.  This kind of information is used for target marketing to the public.  To now add a permission marketing app to supplement with Bluetooth technology is a rather minor addition to the existing privacy concerns, and at least has a public health purpose.

Natalie Doyle Oldfield who spent twenty years working in IT before turning her attention to organizational trust, added a bit more historical perspective:

As history has shown, wars vastly expand governments’ powers to regulate, to collect data and introduce new measures.  For example, income tax was introduced as a war time measures act in the interest of public welfare.  At the same time, strict policies to protect personal income data were enacted. Census taking provides another historical example of data collection.

Banks, health care professionals, lawyers, accountants and other professionals must follow established confidentiality rules and codes of ethics to keep our personal data secure and private. For the most part, the regulatory bodies have put safeguards in place to ensure these professions do not abuse our privacy.  And if they do, there are repercussions. Medical professionals can lose their licenses to practice and lawyers can be disbarred. 

The question is will “Big Tech” demonstrate that they too not only can but WILL voluntarily meet the highest ethical standards? Can they provide sound answers to the following questions: Specifically, what data will be collected and who will have access to it?   Are we committing to practicing privacy and security by design? What about HIPAA certification? Will we do what’s ethical and in the public’s best privacy interests,  or only what’s regulated, understanding that tech regulations are lagging far behind other industries like finance and health care.

Personal Trust vs. Societal Health

Charlie Green’s response is one of “Roll the dice trust.”

Personal trust inevitably comes in conflict with tech privacy and security concerns. After all, the height of privacy and security tech models are called “zero trust” for a reason. Because it has nothing to do with personal trust.

I think the trust issue in this case is that we need to trust Apple and Google and each other, adding some clear transparency bumpers, to do something potentially tremendously positive in the face of a pandemic.

Randy Conley sits in the camp of “cautious optimism.”

I think technology can play a tremendously helpful role in public health or disaster management situations like this, AND, we have to be cognizant of the personal privacy issues involved. I believe South Korea has leveraged personal technology to a large degree in their successful management of the COVID-19 virus. The reality is that we live with an illusion of privacy. Despite our safeguards, we don’t have as much privacy as we think we do. If nefarious actors in Big Tech or any skilled hacker wants information on us, they can get it.

Linda Fisher Thornton considers the trade offs:

“The challenge we face is balancing the benefits of surveillance during the COVID-19 pandemic, which potentially includes saving lives, with the costs in terms of the loss of privacy and autonomy. The surveillance approach puts the safety of the masses ahead of the privacy and autonomy of individuals  For surveillance to be effective, a strong majority will need to allow access to their location and health status data. To convince them to do that, tech companies will need to demonstrate trustworthy intentions, a clear plan, full disclosure, and implementation that includes privacy protections.” 

Bob Whipple adds that with the tech solutions, just remember that anything that is made by people can be hacked by other people.  So the potential of abuse in electronic tracing is immense.

Pandemics Aside, Trust is ALWAYS a Function of Leadership

Bob Vanourek, a former CEO of several large pubic companies reminds us that:

Good leaders go first in extending trust and scale up or down afterwards depending on the behavior of the other. 

This pandemic is a huge Black Swan (or perhaps a “known-unknown”) event that will change much of our world forever. Some would argue that using such tech will help save lives and is, therefore, worthwhile. Others will argue the privacy invasion issues are scary, and we can’t take a step down this potentially slippery slope.

Like many ethical issues, there are legitimate pros and cons on both sides of the argument. Should the government pass a law outlawing this technology and behavior? I think not. Should we blindly accept the tech companies to handle this without close scrutiny? I think not. 

Stephen M.R. Covey’s “smart trust” applies here alongside Jim Kouzes’ “go first” dictum. Let’s extend Google and Apple smart trust and closely monitor what they are doing, adjusting accordingly.

Wrapping up

Getting back to Bart Alexander:

In 1988, Shoshana Zuboff wrote “In the Age of the Smart Machine” that increasing automation can be used to empower or control us at work and beyond.  Even in that pre-internet era, the key moral issue of surveillance had emerged: for whom and for what purpose are we giving up our privacy?

I’ve argued (in the work I did for the U of Denver Institute for Enterprise Ethics) that these moral issues should not and cannot be resolved by engineers.  We need sociologists and ethicist to struggle with what otherwise are just technical problems to be overcome.  I would add that public health officials will always err on the side of protection versus personal freedoms, embodied in the precautionary principle.  They may often be right, but they and the software engineers’ solutions should not be without scrutiny.

Finally, as the Founder of Trust Across America- Trust Around the World, I’ll add my perspective. I do not believe that these two tech giants will receive adequate voluntary public buy-in to reach the scale they had hoped for. They simply haven’t earned the public trust required of such a large initiative. That being said, something tells me that Apple and Google already have all the technology and data they need to go forward, with or without permission, while other competing interests attempt to play catch up.

One member of our Trust Council shared this quote from the often controversial Winston Churchill: “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”

Trust Across America-Trust Around the World, along with members of its Trust Alliance, offers both online and in-person workshops to help leaders, teams and organizations build their trust competency. These are some samples of recent engagements.

Catch up on our 2020 Trust Insights series at this link.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is an award-winning communications executive and the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. Barbara has consulted with many Fortune 500 CEOs and their firms, and also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance . She is  the editor of the award-winning TRUST INC. book series and TRUST! Magazine.  Barbara holds a BA in International Affairs and an MBA.

Copyright 2020, Next Decade, Inc.

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Apr
21

While there are no shortcuts to trust, there are many work arounds.  Barbara Brooks Kimmel

In the words of Abraham Lincoln…. You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

 

 

 

The same applies to trust. Perhaps now, more than ever, leaders have a responsibility to their stakeholders to stop treating trust like an outcast soft skill, and start approaching low trust as a high risk. Trust is an essential organizational competency with tangible value, just like any other.

How many of these shortcuts to trust have you participated in or taken?

  • Misdefining trust in a way that suits organizational leadership and its advisors. A few examples: brand trust, check the box sustainability/ESG, philanthropy, “feel good” CSR, and blockchain solutions are not trust. Neither is”purpose.”
  • Engaging a “feel good” speaker, rather than holding a trust competency workshop with a trust subject matter expert.
  • Paying to be designated as a “great workplace.”
  • Hiring additional legal and compliance professionals.
  • Creating a marketing campaign based on trust “talk” rather than action.

Unfortunately, not a single one of these costly “perception of trust” shortcuts will elevate trust.

Building a high trust organization is not difficult if trust is acknowledged as the outcome of principled behavior. It simply requires leadership buy-in, a solid trust-building framework, and a destination. High priced trust shortcuts might fool some of the people in the short-term, but in the long-term principled leaders build trust-based organizations from the inside out, not the outside in.

Trust Across America-Trust Around the World, along with members of its Trust Alliance, offers both online and in-person workshops to help leaders, teams and organizations build their trust competency. These are some samples of recent engagements.

Refer to the list of above and decide which you would rather do, build trust or work around it.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is an award-winning communications executive and the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. Barbara has consulted with many Fortune 500 CEOs and their firms, and also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance . She is  the editor of the award-winning TRUST INC. book series and TRUST! Magazine.  Barbara holds a BA in International Affairs and an MBA.

Copyright 2020, Next Decade, Inc.

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Feb
25

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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Nov
16

James E. Lukaszewski is widely known as America’s Crisis Guru. He offers the following timely advice about reputation and trust and the role each play in ensuring organizational success.

I’ve always thought that the whole notion of reputation was more a Public Relations construct than a management concern. Leaders care about trust.

During my nearly 40 years in reputation, leadership and organizational recovery I can’t recall a serious discussion of reputation in a management circumstance by those running the business until just before they were about to lose or see their reputation seriously damaged. Public Relations advisors rather than business operators raised the issues.

Trust is a powerful management term. I define trust as the absence of fear. I interpret fear to mean the absence of trust. Trust is a management word; trust is a powerful cultural word. Trust is a word that has its counterparts in virtually every culture on the planet; and trust is understood clearly and immediately by just about everybody. Generally it’s mom who taught us about trust, so we remember.

Chief Executives of troubled organizations don’t lose their jobs because there’s a reputation problem. They lose their jobs because there is a trust problem, a failure to provide the assurance that prevents the fear of serious adverse circumstances. If we’re talking seriously about our relationship with constituents, stakeholders, employees, the public, anyone who has a stake in our organization for whatever reason, we’re talking about trust.

Reputation? We’ll need to call the PR department for the latest definition.

This is an excerpt from the second of our three book Trust, Inc series.

James E. Lukaszewski (loo-ka-SHEV-skee) is widely known as America’s Crisis Guru. He is a speaker, author (12 books and hundreds of articles and monographs), lecturer and ethicist (co-chair of the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards). 

For more information about our programs and how your organization can elevate trust, visit www.trustacrossamerica.com

Copyright 2019 Next Decade, Inc.

 

 

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May
29

Trust weaknesses perhaps represent the greatest risk in today’s competitive business environment. Recent news confirms this.

A costly trust “fix” can wreak havoc on a company for years to come. Consider the long-term impact on all stakeholders as a result of Wells Fargo’s trust breach. The fact is, almost every trust “event” can be avoided or “softened” when Boards acknowledge that trust is tangible, and choose to proactively build their trust bank account.  Placing trust in the center of the business strategy, and practicing and reinforcing it daily is no longer a nicety, it’s an imperative.

Trust is internal and ALWAYS built from the top down and the inside out.

Trust cannot be delegated to PR, communications or any “silo” per se. Purpose, reputation, sustainability and data privacy are also not substitutes for trust. They are simply placeholders or misguided “perception” of trust. A Board that chooses to ignore trust as a stand alone tangible asset, does so at its own risk, and cannot  manage it by taking it for granted. Higher organizational trust produces the following outcomes:

  • Higher employee engagement and retention and lower fear
  • Expeditious decision making
  • Innovative mindsets
  • Elevated accountability, transparency and communication
  • More profitable

Speaking in 2016 at an annual conference of the Arthur W. Page Society, Paul Polman, CEO at Unilever noted that without trust in companies, there can be no genuine prosperity. Seventy-five percent of U.S. graduates, he said, do not want to work for big companies anymore. 

Given that trust is always a top down imperative, could the Board of Directors gain valuable insights into the importance of elevating trust if they surveyed their own members based upon universal principles of trust? What would the results reveal? Would the Board find respect to be high or low? How about integrity or understanding?

And what if upon completion of the survey and creation of a plan to address the weaknesses, the Board expanded their trust-building efforts by administering the same anonymous survey to Legal, Ethics & Compliance, HR, Finance and Marketing? Would this provide the Board with any actionable insights? Could reputation risk be reduced? And what would each team’s results look like? How quickly could trust, and the resulting long-term benefits, be elevated by correcting the deficiencies?

In fact, what if a Board member assumed the role of Chief Trust Officer for the entire organization? Sounds like a fairytale? It’s not. This exact exercise is already being implemented in several progressive Boardrooms in both domestic and international organizations.

What are Boards finding?

After completing the survey, one Board determined that the Principles of accountability, transparency and tracking were sorely lacking among their members. These weaknesses are now being addressed, while successes such as “truth” and “respect” are being celebrated. This Board plans to roll the diagnostic out firm wide.

A Simple Solution

In 2017, Trust Across America-Trust Around the World’s global Trust Alliance set out to create universal trust-building Principles that could be applied in any team or organization of any size. The plan was to develop a non-threatening mechanism to start the “trust discussion.” The Alliance itself (now in its 6th year) is comprised of cross functional professionals including Board and C-Suite members, compliance & ethics, risk, HR, marketing, finance, accounting, CSR professionals, etc.

Beginning with almost ninety ideas, and over the course of a full year, members weighed in through a powerful decision-making software tool, and honed the ideas to twelve Principles that form the acronym, “TAP INTO TRUST.”

TAP (Trust Alliance Principles) was first published in April 2018 and is currently available as a free PDF download in 16 languages. In just one year, over 50,000 global professionals have “tapped in” and the trust “movement” shows no sign of slowing.

In March 2019, Phase II was introduced. AIM Towards Trust is an anonymous one question, one minute survey that allows teams and organizations to obtain their trust baseline metrics and address weaknesses. AIM is an acronym for Acknowledge, Identify, Mend.

Building trust-based principles into the DNA of an organization lowers fear and elevates security among all stakeholder groups. For example:

  • Employees stop looking over their shoulders and instead start engaging, innovating, collaborating and working for the “greater good.”
  • Customers no longer question whether the “brand” can be trusted.
  • Shareholders trust that their investment is less risky.

The most enlightened Boards (we have written extensively about this subject in TRUST! Magazine) have an enormous business advantage when they choose to become the catalyst that turns around low trust in their respective companies, and in the broader business landscape. The tools are available for those who want to do more than “talk” and to actually make “Trust the New Currency” instead of just the latest buzz.  And remember, trust always starts at the top.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World , now in its 11th year, and whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance and is the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series. She holds a BA in International Affairs and an MBA. 

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Jan
13

2019 began with a trust “bang” when Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced a new position in his company. Essentially, after some deep soul searching, this CEO recognizes that most large organizations, including the tech sector, have a trust problem and he is committed to solving that. Marc is one of a small yet growing cadre of enlightened leaders, and with the appointment of Paula Goldman from Omidyar Network, Salesforce now has a Chief Ethics and Humane Use Officer.

I recently asked a few of Trust Across America’s Trust Council members  to weigh in on how Paula can be most effective in her new role.

Donna Boehme who heads Compliance Strategists and has been a leading voice for Compliance 2.0 had this to say:

As the CEO says, it’s been “dark days” for the tech industry, which is by no means an overstatement. With so much change leading to an aggregation of power in the big tech companies, the industry is long overdue for a reckoning. By appointing a senior executive to begin to manage such issues at his company, the CEO is demonstrating intuitive foresight and risk assessment. I also imagine he has seen the disasters that befall companies that fail to value ethical leadership and culture as a key company asset.

That’s quite a high minded and open-ended title to the extent it opens the door to confusion and misinterpretation. Ms. Goldman should do what I often coach new chief compliance and ethics officers (CECOs) to do: refine her title and ensure she has a clear written mandate for the role that is understood and agreed by all of senior management.

In that vein, Bob Whipple at Leadergrow had similar advice for Paula:

Make sure to have clarity of your role.  Many a “Chief Ethical Officer” has found out that he or she is ultimately like an appendix. I have always believed that ethical culture is a line rather than a staff function. Also, try to figure out what “humane use” really means.

Back to Donna Boehme

A clear written mandate is the key to empowerment for those in these roles…including a clarification of the respective roles of others (HR, Legal, Audit, etc.) supporting the program to avoid redundancy and gaps. The future… hinges on robust collaboration and coordination by all who support related activities, which is why the written mandate and collaboration tools are important. I go by the well-established compliance maxim  of “If everyone is responsible for feeding the dog, the dog starves.”

Another early area of concentration for anyone new to this role is to establish key peer and mentor networks to support them as they navigate the often rocky waters in which any new function/executive must exist and succeed. 

The challenges for BigTech feel analogous to those faced by the defense industry in the 80’s, and it seems natural that a shared endeavor to address the risks of compliance and culture could prove as productive and proactively beneficial as the early Defense Industry Initiative did for BigDefense in the 80’s.

I also turned to Bob Vanourek, at Triple Crown Leadership, a former CEO of several major companies who offered this advice:

As the first steps in her new role as Salesforce’s first Chief Ethical and Humane Use Officer, Paula Goldman should:

  1. Seek input from multitudes of sources inside and outside the company as to the ethical and humane issues that are frothing to the surface in the coming years.
  2. Enlist a large cross-section of volunteers from inside and outside the firm who agree to think deeply about these issues and offer their counsel on how to deal with them. These volunteers should be wildly diverse in age, gender, disciplines, experience, political views, and other areas of difference.
  3. Assemble a small group of volunteer colleagues inside the firm to crystalize and summarize the input and views from above to discuss with her superiors at Salesforce with recommendations on the top few issues on which Salesforce wishes to take an initial public stand.

And finally, Stephen M.R. Covey who needs no introduction, offered these valuable insights:

This will not be easy for Paula because people often view differently what they perceive as right and wrong when it comes to policy decisions, and it can especially become contested when it comes to matters that are (or might become) politicized. In other words, there could be more than one right answer. If that’s the case, then focusing on establishing agreed upon criteria and process would seem to be among the highest leveraged initial steps she should take, including: 

  1. Focus on establishing criteria for her committee’s framework that includes making the creation, preservation, and enhancement of trust—externally and internally—an explicit objective, i.e., “How will this decision affect our trust in society? In the marketplace?  In the workplace?, etc.”
  2. Focus on establishing criteria that recognizes the fundamental needs (economic, social, intellectual, purpose) of ALL stakeholders, and seek to establish a dynamic process of attempting to assess and ultimately balance these needs and stakeholders.
  3. Create a process for internal feedback and discussion so as to be open and transparent inside the organization so that even if some people might disagree with the decision, they might still have felt heard and understood (even if not agreed).
  4. “Declare your intent” as to what you’re doing, and especially why you’re doing it, so as to be clear and transparent about agenda and motive.

As the CEO of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World, I offer Paula the following:

1. Our TAP program, guiding principles developed over the course of the past year by our global Trust Alliance, and currently accessed over 30,000 times. These Principles, available in 16 languages, can elevate trust in any organization of any size. We have recently completed Phase #2 providing a series of discussion questions for implementing each Principle.

2. Our research on the intersection of trust and profitability, should anyone should ask the question “Why trust?”

A few closing questions:

  • Should Paula Goldman be reporting to the Chief Equality Officer or someone else?
  • Will Paula’s role simply be to ensure that new technology initiatives remain ethically “compliant” or will the position go beyond this somewhat limited scope?

While our ten years researching the trustworthiness of public companies points to the conclusion that “no company is perfect,” how exciting to start 2019 with this news from a visionary leader in the tech sector. Well done. Now the “hard” work starts.

You can read Marc Benioff’s announcement at this CNBC link.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is an award-winning communications executive and the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. A former consultant to McKinsey and 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. In 2012 she was named one of “25 Women who are Changing the World” by Good Business International, and in 2017 she became a Fellow of the Governance & Accountability Institute. Barbara holds a BA in International Affairs and an MBA. Don’t forget to TAP into Trust!

For more information contact barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

Copyright(c) 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

 

 

Jan
08

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Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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Jan
06

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