Posts Tagged ‘reputation’




Have you ever considered the inverse relationship between product warranties and trust? I have.

According to my friends at Merriam-Webster a warranty is: a written statement that promises the good condition of a product and states that the maker is responsible for repairing or replacing the product usually for a certain period of time after its purchase. 

The catch phrase is “a certain period of time.”

As consumers, how often have we heard the following:

  1. It’s not covered under warranty.
  2. Sorry, your warranty expired last week.
  3. Do you have a copy of your warranty?
  4. Do you know the length of your warranty?
  5. Did you send in the warranty?

In essence the manufacturer is setting a time limit on its own reputation and building a wall of mistrust between itself and its customers. I’m not suggesting that warranties should not exist. I suppose there are times when they are needed, although I can’t think of any offhand.

If you are interested in reading about the history of the warranty including such events as the 1975 Magnuson-Moss FTC Warranty Improvement Act, express vs. written, repair and replace, breach of warranty, disclaimers and limitation and dozens of other “laws” please click here. (Thank you Paul E. Wojcicki for incorporating all this information in one neat Slideshare.) Imagine how many lawyers it took to write the warranty rules and how many are needed to enforce them! Let’s not even think about the gross annual costs to society of warranty litigation.

How about instead, if companies just “did the right thing?”

Sometimes they do.

Yesterday I called Kohler to inquire about replacing a broken head on my kitchen faucet. The call wait time was very short, an English-speaking customer service rep answered, some basic information was collected (name, address, phone) and the matter was resolved in under 5 minutes. The outcome: The part is being replaced at no charge. There was little discussion of warranties. The closest was the question as to when the item was purchased. I told the CSR I had no idea, as I could not remember when we had our kitchen remodeled.

So hat’s off to Kohler for standing behind their product and “doing what is right” instead of only “what is legal.” And the way they do business is clearly not by accident. Founded in 1873, Kohler is a family-owned business, and a privately held company. You can read their mission statement here. Their employees seem happy and they have won many awards. The CEO, Herbert Kohler, Jr. is the founder’s grandson. And I’ll bet you didn’t know that the company owns several golf courses and an arts center in Wisconsin! Do you think culture and values are high on the priority list of this company? Are you surprised they have been in business for so long? I’m not. It seems they try to “do right” by all their stakeholders. I doubt the company is perfect, but they certainly set high standards.

Kohler has built trust with this consumer, and based on the success of the company, with many others as well. Can you guess who will get my business next time I need a new fixture?

Thank you Kohler. You are truly a role model for trustworthy business.

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.

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Copyright © 2014, Next Decade, Inc.


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Did you know that Trust Across America-Trust Around the World (TAA-TAW) facilitates a group called The Alliance of Trustworthy Business Experts (ATBE)?




This is a vetted membership group (annual fee to join.) We formed at the end of 2012 to meet the need for an organized team of cross-functional professionals (trust, leadership, teamwork, culture, ethics, compliance, customer service, CSR, branding, reputation, crisis repair, etc) who would work collaboratively to help organizations build trust. Among our members are CEOs and former CEOs, C-Suite executives, consultants, academics, NGOs, nonprofits, and even the media. We all have one trait in common. We know that trust works!

If you are interested in learning about our history, you can read the original press release announcing our initial 2-year Campaign for Trust via Reuters News, and review a list of our original 25 founding members.

We’ve come a long way in less than 2 years, and have expanded to almost 100 members from around the world.  The TAA-TAW website attracts thousands of visitors every day, with well over 100,000 page views per month, and growing daily.

While there are many benefits of joining the group, these are some of the more tangible.

  1. Referral Network: A growing network of speakers, panelists and experts that Trust Across America has booked for events
  2. Introductions: to other members with similar and complimentary objectives
  3. An opportunity to showcase your work: in Trust! (The Magazine) (coming this Fall)
  4. Write a report: for one of the most visited pages on our site: Building Trust Reports
  5. Produce a video: for our Trust Talks™ series
  6. Add your work to our living bibliography: (the most comprehensive of its kind) Constructing a Framework for Trust
  7. Participate in regional events: via our Circles of Trust
  8. Trust Inc. Books: participate in our book series The third book was announced to our members last week.
  9. Join the Alliance of Trustworthy Business Experts Tribe (with an audience reach of almost 1 million)
  10. Ask the Alliance: Provide expert commentary for the media (see example)

And finally, you can read what our members are saying.

Please consider joining us as we enter the second phase of our organizational trust journey.

**Note: The Alliance will be closed to new members when we reach our goal of 100 active participants. We will then initiate a waiting list.


Have a question? Feel free to contact me:

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.

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Copyright © 2014, Next Decade, Inc.




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What do pickles, kindness and employee engagement have in common? Read on.


This morning my younger son was packing up to head to Vermont for a few days with a friend and his family. He had just returned from the bagel shop with a Baker’s Dozen and a container of cream cheese to share during the trip. On his way out the door I remembered that last evening I had brewed up our first batch of summer refrigerator pickles from our bounty of organic garden cucumbers. (For those of you who think pickles must be made in a crock and “cooked” for months, there’s a shortcut that actually tastes better and only takes 3 or 4 days. Think “crunchy” and Google “garlic dill refrigerator pickles.)”

I suggested to my son that he take a jar to his host family. His response surprised me. He said he believed one kind gesture (the bag of bagels) was sufficient. I reminded him that you can never do too many nice things for others.

Same applies to leaders in any organization. Who in the C-Suite is tasked with doing the “right” thing and keeping everyone happy, the equivalent of a Chief Kindness Officer? It all starts with the CEO.  How often do you hear about companies doing nice things just because they want to, as opposed to well crafted PR campaigns or corporate window dressing? Some do. Howard Schultz at Starbucks just announced a program to pay college tuition.

According to Gallup, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. Do you think building kindness into the corporate culture might raise that engagement? Acts of kindness build trust. They make for good business.

I have compiled a short list of the various ways leaders can build trust through deliberate acts of kindness.

  • Set long-term goals and establish a benchmark
  • Put trust high on the agenda every day
  • Create an intentional culture
  • Hire the right people who are aligned with that culture (don’t forget to let HR know)
  • Communicate openly
  • Support advancement
  • Catch someone doing something right every day, announce it and reward it
  • Tell the truth
  • Park your ego at the door and do more listening than talking
  • Come down out of your ivory tower and on to the shop floor
  • Keep your word
  • Offer to buy lunch, bring a jar of pickles, and sit down at the table.

Start today. Set some long-term employee engagement goals and put trust high on the daily agenda. Let me know the outcome.

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.

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Drop her a note at

Copyright © 2014, Next Decade, Inc.


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Building organizational trust requires leadership “buy-in.” The payoff includes a happier and more stable work force; faster decision making and innovation; and long-term sustainability and profitability.

This list compiles some of the myths surrounding organizational trust and leadership.

  1. Trust is “soft” and does not increase profitability.
  2. If an organization complies with the law, it is trustworthy.
  3. Leaders need not have integrity in their personal life as long as they act the part at work.
  4. Writing a corporate values statement or having a credo is a waste of time and resources.
  5. Building trust into the corporate DNA will not result in faster crisis recovery.
  6. Short-term profitability trumps long-term trustworthiness.
  7. It’s not leader’s job to ensure that trust-building is an organizational priority.
  8. Shareholders are more important than other stakeholders.
  9. Corporate responsibility need not extend beyond philanthropy.
  10. It’s okay to tell an occasional lie.

What myths would you add to this list? Leave a comment.

These myths and other are discussed in our new book, Trust Inc. Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset.

Trust Inc.

Trust Inc.

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Crisis management has become a complex field with highly paid specialists who counsel CEOs.

A CEO who leads with trust will find a reputation blow to be softer, and the recovery much easier.


First, let’s look at the central attributes of a crisis

  • It has the potential to do significant reputational damage
  • It will hurt at least one group of stakeholders- consumers, shareholders, employees, etc.
  • It is unique and often unpredictable (although not always)
  • It is of interest to the media


Now let’s look at the 5 essential short-term measures the CEO who leads with trust must take:

  1. In the first 24 hours communicate widely and communicate consistently
  2. Tell the truth
  3. Tell it accurately
  4. Tell it fully
  5. Tell it yourself


And the 5 essential long-term leading with trust measures:

  1. Accept responsibility
  2. Take long-term corrective action, not a short term band aid
  3. Address any systemic problems
  4. Rebuild broken bridges
  5. Continue to communicate openly


It’s not rocket science, but usually the missing ingredient is trust, and that’s what keeps the crisis consultants and specialists in business.

We devote an entire section to Leading with Trust in Crisis in our new book:

Trust Inc, Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset 

Trust Inc.

Trust Inc.


Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America – Trust Around the World.

She welcomes your comments and suggestions.

Email her at

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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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Yesterday afternoon I was driving my kids to the dentist and got “rear-ended”. And while any accident is unfortunate, there were several components of trustworthy behavior (accountability, integrity, reputation, leadership, efficiency) exhibited during the critical minutes that followed the accident. And the best news is that nobody went to the hospital.

1. Within 30 seconds of the crash, a “Good Samaritan” (might have been a town public works employee) walked to the scene to ensure that we were all okay and see if he could help. I believe he was parked across the street.

2. The 911 operator had a police officer on the scene within 2 minutes.

3. The person who caused the accident did not try to bend the facts with me or the police. She was honest and took full responsibility. Kudos to a 23 year old who was willing to own up to her mistake.

4. The police officer was professional in his handling of the paper work and in taking time to explain what he was doing and providing post accident directions.

5. We were back on our way to the dentist within 20 minutes.

6. I was in contact with both insurance companies within 6 hours, and was assured that there would be no out of pocket costs on my part.

While nobody wants to be in a car accident, yesterday my faith in human nature got a very large boost. Trustworthy personal and professional behavior was exhibited by all parties involved. A very good outcome to a bad experience.

Now, if I could just figure out a way to bypass the wisdom teeth extraction!

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