Posts Tagged ‘FACTS (TM)’


Anyone still hesitating to embrace the business notion that trust is an asset – an asset that can leverage real business gains – should look at the ongoing data from Trust Across America (TAA) comparing companies with strong trust profiles to all other companies.   TAA is a US-based think tank exploring the issues of corporate trust and the relationship between trustworthy business and company performance in America – this, at a time when we feel corporate trust is not only rare, but also misunderstood and unappreciated as a business-building tool.

Among the empirical data we have collected over three years studying 3,000 US public companies, is the vivid performance of our “Gold 59” – including US brands such as Mattel, United Natural Foods and Accenture.   The Gold 59 comprises the US-based public companies that met our minimum benchmarks of trustworthy business behavior – which essentially means an above-average score in each of our five drivers of trust including Financial stability, Accounting Conservativeness, Corporate Integrity, Transparency and Sustainability (FACTS®). While many companies may be strong in multiple drivers, our research shows that a “weak link breaks the chain” and this is why only 59 companies qualified.

Compared to the S&P Index, an accepted standard for stock performance among some of the largest 500 companies in America, the Gold 59 is presently 500 basis points (or 5%) ahead since November 2010 when TAA began to formally share its data. Certainly the 10-year trend is even more enlightening, compared to a very stagnant S&P.


Source: Trust Across America May 2012

  We can point to five critical areas that show why the Gold 59 is so much further ahead of the S&P:

  • Governance: Companies that made it into our Gold 59 put transparency and governance high on their priorities lists to ensure they have operations that meet and exceed the minimum standards expected. They are not “just compliant.”
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Trust is a tango of at least two, and companies that engaged key stakeholders in meaningful, two-way communication received unbiased high trust marks.
  • Consistency: There is nothing like being reliably consistent in delivering on product and service excellence and business performance to solidify trust with the audiences that make a business succeed.
  • Authenticity: “Keeping it real” is a motto that rises to the highest levels in business performance, which means being honest about successes, failures, goofs and unexpected triumphs.
  • Relevance: Companies that reflect real needs and real opportunities are the companies that attract the highest level of interest and potential for trust dividends by delivering on those high expectations. Sales increase because customers like doing business with trustworthy companies. We see this in other highly ranked FACTS companies like Nike and Starbucks.

“When we deliberately and consistently behave in ways that inspire trust, we will experience high-trust ‘dividends’,” says Stephen M.R. Covey, author of the bestseller The Speed of Trust. “There are actual economics to high trust – the dividends of greater speed and lower cost – just like there are economics to low trust – the “taxes” of lower speed and higher cost.  These economics of trust are experienced in relationships, on teams and in organizations, and ultimately these economics translate and extend into the financial marketplace.”

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of trusted companies “beating the street’ is the evidence of the upward virtuous cycle that is created because of the reciprocal nature of trust. When we trust people, they tend to trust us back. When we reward trusting behavior in organizations, it begets more trust-building behavior — which is the essence of a free and civil society.   The Gold 59 proves that the market values trustworthy behavior.   So why does the crisis of distrust continue and why are companies not running to prove their trustworthiness?   This is the inspiration for many more columns on the asset of corporate trust, but it boils down to a system that makes other assets priorities over trust – specifically, antiquated notions of shareholder value and settling for regulatory compliance as the marker of ethical behavior, among other distractions. The value of a company is derived from the relationships it maintains will all its stakeholders, not just shareholders. When we look at corporate performance we can no longer look at the short-term and we cannot merely look at investors.

If we study the other 2,941 pubic companies that don’t meet TAA’s minimum threshold for trustworthy business behavior, we see how rare trust is and how easily poor performance is justified by the apparent fact that “everyone else is doing it.” Trust leadership requires a more progressive stance on building authentic relationships with stakeholders – a relationship that pays trust dividends.  It also requires a long-term focus. And for those pioneers in valuing trust and investing in trust, the upside is clear –and the short-term takes care of it self.

Barbara Kimmel, Executive Director of Trust Across America (TAA), a US based think tank and communications program ( whose mission is to restore corporate trust. Email your thoughts and ideas to barbara at

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Who Are the Tri –State’s Most Trustworthy Public Companies?

Even though trust in corporations is dropping nationwide,  many companies in the Tri-State area exhibit high levels of trustworthy behavior and many are surging ahead of the S&P as America recovers from its most recent recession. According to Trust Across America (TAA), the Tri-State area’s most trustworthy companies are:

New York:       

Gold- Hess Corporation                    

Silver- Transatlantic Holdings Inc.  

Bronze- Avon Products, Inc.            

For more details:

New Jersey:          

Gold- Prudential Financial, Inc.

Silver- Cytec Industries Inc.

Bronze- Sealed Air Corporation

For more details:


Gold- Praxair

Silver- Rockville Financial

Bronze- United Technologies

For more details:

Trust Across America shines the spotlight on world-class companies exhibiting high levels of trustworthy business behavior, while providing a roadmap for other organizations to follow. Although trust was difficult to accurately measure in the past, TAA has compiled a composite set of trust metrics and worked closely with organizations that measure them.  The result is a new model called FACTS™, an acronym that stands for Financial stability and strength, Accounting conservativeness, Corporate integrity, Transparency, and Sustainability, with each factor evenly weighted. The power of this model is that it is objective, quantitative, and rich in independent metrics. 

Barbara Kimmel, Executive Director of Trust Across America states: “There are no perfect companies.  However, many companies have touted themselves as trustworthy and have been given a free ride because corporate America has lacked a definition of trust and tools to measure it. Our data can see through the smoke and mirrors.”

So while the news continues to be filled with surveys showing that consumer and investor mistrust of business is rising, we can now focus on the companies that are working hard to earn the public’s trust. As a result, consumers can now choose to do business with these trustworthy companies, while investors have an added level of protection from the next corporate scandal. 

 Trust Across America is a program of Next Decade, Inc., an award-winning firm that has been unraveling and simplifying complex business subjects for over 20 years. TAA provides a framework for public companies to improve trustworthy business practices, as well as showcasing role models that are exhibiting high levels of trust and integrity.

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While there may be a continuing and complex trust crisis in America, our research shows that there is a direct relationship between business performance and trustworthy behavior. And while a universal definition of trust may not exist, it’s not really a problem,—it’s just the way things are. We love to put precise metrics in place that describe and explain, in linear and causal terms, things like human behavior. But reality doesn’t always cooperate. And because what can’t be measured also gets overlooked, trust, which is absolutely critical in business relationships, needs measuring.

A 2008 paper written by the Economist Intelligence Unit entitled “The Role of Trust in Business Collaboration” concluded with the following statement:

“Even though best-practice corporate governance has been on the corporate radar for some time now, it seems that the trust element of governance, despite being so closely linked to ethics, has yet to become a business standard.”

We believe that many important concepts cannot be reduced to a single metric, and that is certainly true for trust. However, what can be defined and measured are various contributory components of trustworthy behavior in business—factors that we can all agree are definitely somewhere in the trust neighborhood. And when these factors are evaluated and aggregated, there are some encouraging results about companies that somehow seem to be “doing the right thing.” We may not be able to precisely measure trust; but that doesn’t mean we can’t rate it, test it, evaluate it, and above all—manage it. What we have recently done is removed the ‘yet’ out of the Economist’s description.

In 2007 we set a goal of developing a rigorous approach to better understanding and evaluating trustworthy business practices. We began laying a foundation for a trust ecosystem, and Trust Across America™ (TAA) was hatched. Through our professional relationships, LinkedIn group, and our radio show, we have spoken to dozens of academic and corporate experts and consultants across the wide range of specialized silos relating to organizational trust- ethics, integrity, reputation, ESG, CSR, accounting, and sustainability to get their feedback on this elusive concept of trust. From this collaborative effort, we have developed a methodology that we think approximates the most holistic and comprehensive definition and measurement of trustworthy corporate behavior to date. We named it FACTS™. It allows us to provide meaning, definition and measurement to both the business and behavioral side of trust.

FACTS™ is an acronym. It stands for:

Financial strength and stability
Accounting controls
Corporate governance and community impact
Treatment of Stakeholders and Transparency

We ran the FACTS model again historical public data for thousands of public companies from 1998-2009, and eliminated those that did not have complete data. In essence, our methodology analyzes hundreds of data points from three independent providers, and with equal weighting, arrives at a cumulative FACTS™ trust score for almost 2000 of the largest publicly traded companies. Currently, thirty nine companies reach the Gold Standard of 50 points or more in each of the FACTS data categories.

Some other noteworthy findings from this study:

•The company with the highest trust ranking (across sixteen sectors) is in the same industry as BP Global. We find this somewhat timely since it is a goal of TAA to have the most trustworthy companies share their best practices.

•The companies with the highest scores in all data categories come from six different industry groups, so no single industry dominates in the “trust” category.

•The retail sector has the highest average trust rating of the sixteen.

•When we rank the 1954 companies, the top 10% are almost evenly split between large and small (over and under $2 billion market cap).

•Only two hundred companies in the database scored above a “50” in sustainability efforts.

Over the next few weeks we will be populating the Trust Across America website Link to Website with the following material:

-An alphabetical listing of the names of all 1954 companies for which we have complete data.
-An alphabetical listing of the top 10% of all companies.
-Company specific and industry reports that will allow C-Suite executives to anticipate “surprises”, manage risk, and better protect their company’s reputation; provide a workable framework for enhancing organizational trust and reputation; and provide meaning, definition and measurement to both the business and behavioral side of trust..
-Reports for consumers and other professionals.
-Additional resources for public companies that wish to delve deeper into internal and external behavioral assessments.

We will also begin conversations with the media (both print and broadcast) about our findings and will start to contact some of the top companies for interviews and further involvement. Our mission is to highlight companies that are “doing the right thing”, refocus media attention away from the negative, and provide opportunities for companies to share best practices.

I look forward to your comments and feedback. The best initial method to communicate is via email:

Barbara Kimmel, Executive Director Read more…

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