Posts Tagged ‘Donna Boehme’


The Trust Action Project 2021 (#tap2021) Weekly Action is one of many Trust Alliance resources designed to help leaders, teams and organizations move beyond trust talk to ACTION in 2021.



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Copyright 2021, Next Decade, Inc.

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Once again, the scandal plagued banking industry has a new CEO vowing to rebuild trust. This time the headline is out of Copenhagen… 


Trust in Danske Bank has collapsed, says its new chief executive

How many times have we heard these words before? “As reported by Reuters, Trust in Danske Bank has collapsed amid its involvement in a damaging money laundering scandal said the bank’s Chief Executive Chris Vogelzang, as he vowed to strengthen the bank’s defense.”

Fresh out of ABN Amro, another scandal plagued bank, the newly elected Danske CEO cites the primary cause for the loss of trust: “The high level of trust in Denmark, which enjoys a reputation as being one of the least corrupt nations, mean(ing) that there had been fewer incentives to control risks.” And his solution… As a result, he said, nine out of 10 people in the top compliance team are now from outside Denmark.

And also… “There was also some “bad” product in the mix. Trust in the bank has been further dented after a scandal, in which it failed to inform customers that it expected a poor performance from an investment product called Flexinvest Fri and continued to sell the product after raising fees associated with it.”

Once again I asked the members of our Trust Council to read the article and share some advice for Chris Vogelzang.

Donna Boehme, our “Lion” of compliance weighed in first, offering the following observations: 

To rebuild trust and establish a culture of ethical leadership is a huge undertaking that takes years, not days, and requires the advice and coaching of experts, not just PR Wizards of Smart.  One area the experts would focus this company on would be the entire system of “incentives” which has an outsized effect on culture and business decisions, as demonstrated so vividly by Wells Fargo and its fake accounts scandal. Danske might want to look at the leading edge examples being set by a number of companies In this arena.

It is also encouraging that the CEO has brought a compliance team together that has AML and other compliance SME. But if he wants that team to be successful, he must ensure that it has independence, empowerment, line  of sight, seat at the table and resources adequate to do the job well. Gone are the days when reputation and brand can be entrusted to an in-house legal team with no legitimate compliance SME (earned in the trenches) and lacking the positioning and authority to do the job. 


Stephen M.R. Covey  shared the following thoughts:

First, “you can’t talk your way out of a problem you behaved your way into.”  In other words, the only way to restore trust here will be through actions—behaviors—not merely words (although words can be helpful to signal what you’re going to do).  Key behaviors to restore trust here include:  Confront Reality (acknowledge it), Practice Accountability (own it), Right Wrongs (make it right as best you can), Clarify Expectations (tell people what you’re going to do to re-earn their trust), and Keep Commitments (do what you say you’re going to do).

Second, trust in the marketplace is an extension of trust in the workplace.  It’s inside out.  So in order to restore trust with customers, it will be vital to also restore trust with your own people.  Too often organizations who have lost trust in the marketplace focus primarily (sometimes almost exclusively) on the customer/market trust and don’t recognize that they also need to be rebuilding internal workplace trust.  Without the workplace trust, it’s hard to sustain market trust.  Indeed, it’s incongruent.

Third, while building/rebuilding trust is definitely an inside-out process, starting with each leader and with the leadership team, it’s also vital that the process move out to the organizational level where they can better and more appropriately align systems and structures to ensure they build trust the right way.  Some of these systems/structures may have been misaligned in the past and may have contributed to the challenge.

There’s a lot more they need to do but those are just a couple of thoughts.


I’ll add a few more observations to the sage advice provided by Donna and Stephen. 

The concept of rebuilding something implies that it was built before.There is one question that the new CEO must answer before a trust-building strategy can be developed. What exactly did we trust our bank to do in the past that we are currently failing to do? 

While compliance plays a role in elevating trust, it must first come as a directive from the top. If the Board of Directors doesn’t understand or support the importance of creating a long-term strategy to elevate trust, the leadership team will be ineffective. The Danske Board currently consists of five committees: audit, compliance, nomination, remuneration and risk. I would suggest adding a sixth called “trust” and immediately calling in some trust subject matter experts to assist in outlining this critical trust-building strategy.

And speaking of strategy, whether post crisis or proactive, trust can never be delegated, yet this is what we see time and time again. It is not a legal or PR “tactic,” but rather an outcome of an intentional trust “plan” that leadership executes, practices and reinforces daily. In other words, trust “talk” must be followed up with action.

I hope someone at Danske reads this and passes the article up the chain. Perhaps Danske will someday become the industry role model in building trust. After all Denmark, with its high level of trust, should demand nothing less.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. For more information on how to build authentic trust, contact her at 

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

This is the link to the original Reuters article.

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Rahm Emanuel, besieged by angry crowds clamoring for his resignation or recall, now admits, “We have a trust problem.” Well, Duh. We think both Chicago and its Mayor have some strong and graphic lessons in trust to share with CEOs, Boards, C-Suites, CCOs, government officials, and even some of the political candidates for our nation’s highest office.

The authors have a particular interest in trust and culture development, and have carefully followed Chicago’s protests for this reason. In any organization (corporation, government agency, city or nation), trust is a precious and highly valued commodity. Trust, like all other elements comprising an organization’s culture, can’t be bought or “delegated” by its leaders, but evolves organically in direct proportion to individuals’ perception of transparency, honesty, fair play and organizational justice. Trust Across America-Trust Around the World (TAA-TAW) has offered some guidance for community leaders seeking to build a culture of trust and transparency that provides a good starting point.

Leaders of any organization always find their words and actions carefully scrutinized by their constituents including employees, voters, and others affected by their leadership. Senior leadership of companies would be well advised to think of their organization’s level of trust as the fluctuating result of the “ripple effect” of leadership’s words and actions at any given point in time. When leadership’s actions match its words, positive ripples of trust occur. Similarly, when leadership’s actions do not match its words, or do not reflect consistent values or transparency, negative ripples result. It’s human nature for employees, voters, and other constituencies to have a natural, basic hunger for organizational justice – the sense that the rules of the organization are fully transparent and apply equally to everyone. Every police force needs its citizenry to feel that its actions are moderated by protocols and rules (consistently applied), and every community hungers for leaders who act with transparency, trustworthiness and a sense of organizational justice.

Experts in the field of organizational trust and ethics often point to the value of organizational justice in successful “layoff” programs by companies faced with a business need to reduce the number of certain groups of employees, whether due to a simple “downsizing” or a corporate merger, consolidation or relocation of company offices. Despite the effects on both those employees that are laid off and the remaining “survivors,” fairness and consistency in the procedure to carry out the layoff program has a notable and positive effect on both parties and the organization. Former RAND expert on organizational justice, Jerald Greenberg, says that such recalls go well where:

  • Management is clear and truthful on the reasons for, and process to be used to implement, the layoff program;
  • The terms of the program are explained accurately in employee communications in advance of the event; and
  • Employees have confidence that the rules have been fairly applied to all.

The layoff case studies confirm one enduring principle of organizational justice: Companies can’t guarantee fair results, but they CAN guarantee that the process will be fairly applied to everyone. This principle of procedural fairness is Exhibit A for the value of truth and candor in employee communications – a key element of any successful culture of trust and ethical leadership.

And here are the lessons we think companies and their leadership can take from Chicago and its embattled Mayor:

  • Leaders who match words to action (“walk the talk”) build trust as ethical leaders and role models.
  • Transparency drives trust and an ethical culture.
  • The cover-up is always worse than the original problem.
  • If there’s a problem, tell it early, tell it all, and tell it yourself.

But let’s be real here. The time it takes to build trust is directly proportional to the frequency and number of positive trust – building interactions combined with attributes like character, competence and consistency. TAA-TAW calls this the “VIP Leadership Model (Values, Integrity and Promises kept).” There is no doubt that Chicago has a trust problem, and from all accounts the roots are deeply embedded in the culture, in both the Mayor’s administration and the police department. In a perfect world all Mayors and their respective administrations would choose to act, visibly and transparently, in a way that encourages trust, but the world is far from perfect. Chicago is simply the latest example of misdirected leadership and politically driven decision-making. There is a better way forward for all organizations, but first, leaders must acknowledge when a problem exists.

If Chicago and its embattled Mayor want to move forward and heal the wounds of the recent controversies, he and his administration must actively work to rebuild trust and credibility as a foundation of an ethical culture and organizational justice.

We would like to hear what you think about Chicago and Rahm Emanuel. You can take our confidential  Trust Quest poll at this link.

Donna Boehme is the Principal of Compliance Strategists LLC, Donna has advised a wide spectrum of private, public, governmental, academic and non-profit entities on organizational compliance and ethics. @DonnaCBoehme

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO of Trust Across America – Trust Around the World whose mission is simply to help organizations build trust. @BarbaraKimmel

This article first appeared in:

The winter issue of TRUST! Magazine

The FCPA Blog

Compliance Strategists Blog

Copyright 2016 Next Decade, Inc.

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A spate of corporate crises in 2015 have only served to fuel the long-term fire of low organizational trust. Under the theory that trust starts at the top and trickles down, we asked our Alliance Members and Top Thought Leaders how Boards of Directors can be the catalyst to drive organizational trust in the right direction in 2016.

Our readers will find twelve suggestions below:


Boards must replace fear with trust:

A trust-based culture increases morale, productivity, innovation, speed, agility, pride in the workplace, value to the customer and sustained high performance.

Edward Marshall, The Marshall Group


Boards must widen the scope of their membership:

Diverse boards bring different and new types of expertise and perspectives, increasing the range of topics discussed, and most important, encouraging open, candid and provocative discussions.

Nadine Hack, beCause Global Consulting


Boards and CEOs must be proactive:

Boards can and should lead certain functions for the firm from defining the desired culture to involvement in strategy development. They should not be passive monitors.

Bob Vanourek, Triple Crown Leadership


Board members must have authentic conversations:

They must be provided with sufficient information; a safe space that protects privacy and rejects behaviors to intimidate, ridicule or insult; and enough time to explore systemic issues without jumping to conclusions.

Alain Bolea, Business Advisors Network


Boards must avoid entrenching polarized attitudes:

Boards must have synergy. Look for warning signs in communications including “we versus they” or “if only we can get them to do this.”

Bob Whipple, Leadergrow


Board members must ask the tough (ethical) questions…and act on the answers:

Tie compensation and bonuses to ethical leadership metrics as well as financial performance.

Donna C. Boehme, Compliance Strategists


Boards must demand management accountability:

Mission, purpose, values, culture, strategy, business model and brand must be thoughtfully defined, activated and aligned to create a coherent whole.

Roger Bolton, Arthur Page Society


Boards must align their business agenda with societal expectations:

Board members must have an unmistakable sensitivity to the societal issues of the day. Capabilities must be aligned to build a better world AND a better company.

Doug Conant, Conant Leadership


Boards must speak with candor:

The canned, compliance-approved double-talk and corporate window dressing must be replaced. It is, at best, a short-term unsustainable business strategy, and hiding behind philanthropic efforts simply doesn’t work. Boards must build cultures of authentic long-term trust, practice it holistically, and regularly communicate it to all stakeholders.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel, Trust Across America


Boards must kill the evening before dinner:

Instead take a small group of front-line or mid-level employees to dinner in an informal setting without the presence of other corporate executives.

Robert Galford, Center for Leading Organizations


Board must understand their organization’s relationship with their stakeholders:

Take surveys, monitor social and legacy media, and share information across the organization; track the emotions of issues, events and topics, follow changes in the environment; engage and address concerns.

Linda Locke, Standing Partnership


Boards must develop their own crisis plan:

Enumerate what kinds of actions will be taken for different issues, their crisis strategy and who will be designated to play “first string.”

Davia Temin, Temin and Company


What would you add to these recommendations? Drop me a note at

Dozens more suggestions like this can be found in Trust, Inc: A Guide for Boards and C-Suites and in our brand new 2016 annual poster Weekly Ideas That You Can Implement to Build Trust



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Donna Boehme recently shared a Wall St. Journal article by Ben DiPietro called I Wouldn’t Trust Us if I Were You.

A survey of 1,000 security and IT executives from around the world found 25% of respondents saying if they were a customer of their organization, they wouldn’t trust their company to store and manage their personal data…The research findings reveal some interesting contradictions between the perception and the reality of data security.

The article goes on to explore the findings from other data security surveys. But it was the comment at the end by Bruce K. that drove the point of today’s blog post home. Bruce writes:

Several years ago when I was working for a large international firm I found that the senior company execs that knew the least about IT were the most confident about their companies security and in many cases these were the companies that had the most porous borders. and data security controls.

Does the same apply to other important yet overlooked factors impacting organizational trust? Employee engagement, innovation, speed of decision making, and most important, profitability? As companies remain “stuck” in quarterly earnings and “compliance only” mentality, are senior execs ignoring the conditions that elevate organizational trust?

Data breaches are just one symptom of a diseased organization. Perhaps the impact of the others is not as deeply felt, but sometimes those are the ones that pose the largest threat to long-term success.

Our Trust Alliance has assembled a basic membership toolkit of organizational trust resources to help leaders in the best organizations get better by building trust into their long-term business strategy. The rest can continue to turn a deaf ear to trust and wait for the next data breach.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She runs the world’s largest membership program for those interested in learning more, and is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and the Executive Editor of TRUST! Magazine. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

Our 2015 Poster, 52 Weeks of Activities to Increase Organizational Trust is available to those who would like to support our work by making a small donation.

Copyright 2015, Next Decade, Inc.

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Many people are good at talking about what they are doing, but in fact do little. Others do a lot but don’t talk about it; they are the ones who make a community live.  Jean Vanier, Community And Growth

The Pittsburgh police chief and mayor are vowing to regain community trust. You can read more about the low level of trust in Pittsburgh at this link. It’s a messy story with a long history, but hardly a unique scenario. In addition to police brutality, the former police chief was sentenced to prison on corruption charges. So it seems, there is quite a bit of work to be done to build trust in this community.

In September I wrote a popular piece called Trust, it Can’t be Restored if it Never Existed

Regardless of the nature of the organization, be it a community or a corporation, trust is built over time and in incremental steps. Just like a piece of furniture, it can be built, but it can’t be restored if it never existed, and it all begins with trustworthy leadership.

How many community leaders place trust at the top of the agenda?

Last year Trust Across America-Trust Around the World compiled a free report called Building Trust in Community Leadership. It aggregates the expertise of many thought leaders and provides a trust framework and actionable steps for all community leaders who choose to embrace trust as a business imperative. Why should community leaders want to do this?

Communities that build trust reap these benefits and many more:

  • Faster and smoother-functioning governance
  • Collaboration across entities, driving speed, efficiency and innovation
  • Greater community awareness, involvement and support of local initiatives
  • Increased employee responsibility and competence and improved morale
  • Increased levels of trust in (local) government
  • Sets an example for community youth
  • Win/win situations

Communities exhibiting low levels of trust face the following risks and many more:

  • Low levels of employee energy and commitment and high levels of stress
  • High/costly employee turnover
  • Low levels of innovation and change
  • High levels of suspicion among community interest groups
  • High barriers to communication with no open and honest sharing of information
  • Poor and slow decision making
  • Win/lose situations

In Pittsburgh, the Mayor and the Police Chief must commit to leading with trust both independently and as a team.

The Mayor Must Commit to Integrity First:

Public confidence in the integrity of elected officials is the cornerstone of our democratic representative system of governance.  As the highest-ranking elected official of its municipal town or city, the Office of the Mayor is charged with the trust, wellbeing, security, and prosperity of its citizens and community.  The Office of the Mayor should perform its responsibilities with the highest sense of ethical leadership, integrity and competence.  Each Mayor’s Office should develop, implement and monitor a set of Guiding Principles of Integrity that is tailored to its unique mandate and responsibilities. (Donna Boehme)

The Police Chief Must Commit to Core Leadership Values:

An exemplary policing organization engenders in all employees commitment to the core ethical values embodied in trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, caring, fairness and good citizenship. It encourages and expects all employees to demonstrate moral courage to do what is right even when it is personally costly or subjects the organization to criticism or liability. (Michael Josephson)

Let’s hope that the Pittsburgh community is on the right track in building trust. It behooves all stakeholders to keep in mind that trust-building takes time and happens in incremental steps. Perhaps most important, it must encompass more than “just talk.”

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

Nominations are now being accepted for Trust Across America-Trust Around the World’s 5th annual Global Top Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business.

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                                                                                               Coming Soon!

Should you wish to communicate directly with Barbara, drop her a note at

Copyright © 2014, Next Decade, Inc.

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