Posts Tagged ‘Trust Inc. Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset’


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

Trust doesn’t “just happen.” Randy Conley





Can you expand a bit on this important insight?

I’ve found that people think trust just sort-of evolves naturally over time, as if through some relationship osmosis. The thinking goes that the longer you know and interact with someone, the more you grow to trust them. That leaves the development of trust to happenstance, and for most people, they don’t think about trust in a relationship until it’s been broken.

A better way is to approach building trust with purpose and intention, and to realize that it’s a skill that can be developed. Trust is based on perceptions, and those perceptions are formed by the behaviors we use. If we behave in trustworthy ways, we’ll build trust with others. If we use behaviors that erode trust with others, then we won’t be trusted. It’s pretty straight-forward in that regard. If trust is based on perceptions, the challenge becomes whose perception is the correct one? That’s why it’s important to have a common definition of trust. Since trust can be so subjective, having a common understanding of what trust is and isn’t, allows organizational team members to be on the same page regarding how they can build trust in their relationships.


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

I worked with the CEO of a mid-western steel manufacturer and his leadership team to define what trust means for their organization. Trust was one of their core values, but they didn’t have a common language or understanding about what that looked like in practice. They adopted our ABCD framework as their definition of trust, which allowed them to communicate to all employees that when they talk about trust, they are referring to team members demonstrating they are Able, Believeable, Connected, and Dependable, and knowing the behaviors that support each of those four elements.


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

In a general sense, the climate of trust seems to be worsening. Society is becoming more polarized over political issues and the pace of change driven by technology is making it difficult for people to adapt. The seeds of distrust are planted when people begin to experience doubt about the intentions of others, which grows into an active suspicion, anxiety, fear, and ultimately self-protection. When people get to a state of self-protection, they are unwilling to take the risk of extending trust.

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

Generally we do have a crisis of trust, but more specifically, we have a crisis of untrustworthy leaders. At its most fundamental level, trust is an interpersonal dynamic, and organizational leaders need to take more responsibility, and hold themselves to a higher level of accountability, to build and maintain trust with their stakeholders.


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

My involvement in the Trust Alliance has benefited me by learning from other experts in the field. Their wisdom has sharpened my thinking about trust and encouraged me to consider viewpoints I may not have considered had I not been part of this community. I, and hopefully other members, have mutually benefited from the support and encouragement we offer each other.


Randy, 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?

Randy Conley is Vice President & Trust Practice Leader for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Blanchard’s subject matter expert in the field of trust, co-author of Blanchard’s Building Trust training program, and works with organizations around the globe helping them build trust in the workplace. Trust Across America has recognized Randy with a Lifetime Achievement Award as a Top Thought Leader in Trust and he is a founding member of the Trust Alliance. named Randy a Top 100 Leadership Speaker & Thinker and American Management Association included him in their Leaders to Watch in 2015 list. He holds a Masters Degree in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego.


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:

Copyright 2020, Next Decade, Inc.

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Our new reality is teaching us so much about trust. Barbara Brooks Kimmel

This past Thursday, nine members of our Trust Alliance, from four countries, convened for the first in a series of weekly Zoom “Lunch and Learns.” The discussion topic was Trust Lessons from Coronavirus. The conversation ran the gamut from families to communities, and up the societal ladder to government and beyond.



Let’s begin with trust lessons for the family and work our way up from there.

The Family

The modern family operates differently than it did just a generation ago, when more mothers stayed home with their children. In my research I uncovered the following. As of 2018, 63% of all American families have two working parents. In 1989 the number was 53%. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics.) This represents close to a 19% increase. Suddenly, both parents are home, with many working remotely, and their kids are home too, with no school or childcare options. Certainly a shock and a “new reality” for many families. What does this have to do with trust? Just about everything.

Randy Conley of The Ken Blanchard Companies spoke about benevolence and compassion as not only the launch pad for building greater trust, but as the basis of the human fundamental connection. Working parents may want to consider using this “teaching” moment to build even stronger bonds with their children who will then have an improved “skill set” to build them with their friends, communities, teammates and beyond. Parents may consider taking some of these lessons back to their jobs when they return. This could translate into higher levels of workplace trust and more trustworthy generations in the future.

The Community

At the community level, Lea Brovedani is encouraged by how she sees people connecting, displaying tremendous empathy and generosity towards others by offering to help neighbors, joining together in fundraising for nurses and hospitals, and accepting “distancing” (and even washing hands) in the interests of protecting others. Both empathy and generosity build trust.

Darshan Kulkarni, our resident bioethicist, happens to live across the street from a hospital in a large US city. He is witnessing the virus first hand from his window. He urges everyone in every community to take time to separate fact from fiction to get a better “feel” for what is going on, and lessen fear and panic. Understanding that the political push and pull, and the day to day Fox vs. CNN reporting may hurt trust in the short term, it’s now up to communities to pull together to ensure that trust is not eroded over the long term.

The Workplace

David Belden, an organizational strategy consultant discussed how the coronavirus will permanently change the way we work. He reminded us that in many ways the 2008 financial crisis taught companies how to be more productive with fewer employees. Twelve years later and many people are accustomed to working remotely. Now, even more employees have joined those ranks. Will that continue post Coronavirus crisis? Will employers become more efficient? Will trust flourish as in-person micromanagement is no longer an option? Perhaps output increases when time clocks no longer need to be punched.

Will home based employees be more productive with less rules and restrictions? How about those organizations where remote teams have flourished for many years, using ever improving technology to enhance a new form of “teamwork” and efficiency? Has their forward-thinking strategy built a stronger foundation of trust, and a clear business advantage going forward? Because companies are now being given an opportunity to become even more efficient, will they share their wealth with their employees? This is the perfect time for leaders to demonstrate their support for their workers through their actions, not just their words. Think “Purpose” with a capital “P.”

From Canada, Natalie Doyle Oldfield reminded us of how trust builds business relationships, internally with employees and externally with customers and suppliers. At Trust Across America-Trust Around the World, we call that the trust “bank account.” Whether an entrepreneur, a small business owner or the CEO of a multinational company, the bigger that trust account pre crisis, the more stakeholders will remain loyal during the crisis, and the faster the post crisis recovery will be for business leaders who banked it.

Mark Donohue founder of LifeGuides presented another point of view expressing concerns that working from home will be isolating while social connections disintegrate. He shared that 43% of the US workforce currently works remotely (Gallup). Perhaps the time has come, or is past due, to redesign support systems that not only build trust between employers and employees, but also offer better benefits including counseling services during times of isolation and/or personal crisis.


Our European members weighed in on the role government is playing in building or destroying trust. Olivia Mathijsen, a leadership and business advisor is at ground zero for Coronavirus, working remotely in Milan, Italy. She reminded us that different legislators have contrasting points of view, not all data is created equal, that cost cutting in the health sector has created some of the dissolution of trust, and that some media outlets are fueling mistrust by disseminating misinformation. But she sees a silver lining, and that’s compassion being shown and assistance offered not only between individuals, but also between countries, essential components for building societal trust that will hopefully continue post crisis.

Geert Vermeulen, an ethics and compliance expert reporting in from the Netherlands spoke of the shortages of critical supplies and regulatory constraints that have further taxed the system. But he also sees elevating levels of trust as individuals and companies work together to meet societal needs.

The last few minutes of the conversation turned to the shared GLOBAL level of accountability, empathy, compassion and benevolence that has been so apparent over the past several weeks. If we can maintain these basic human behaviors when the Coronavirus crisis subsides, societal trust will certainly be stronger.

In closing, David Belden pointed out that the Latinized form of the Greek word crisis (krisis) means turning point. Coronavirus is already moving the world in the direction of increasing empathy, compassion and benevolence. And as Mark Donohue concluded, the nature of trust is built on the “golden rule,” perhaps the most important reminder during these challenging times.


An abbreviated version of this article was published earlier this week on SmartBrief.

If you would like to participate in our upcoming “Lunch & Learns” join our Trust Alliance.

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:

Copyright 2020, Next Decade, Inc.

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Thank you to these amazing colleagues!

Since launching Trust Across America-Trust Around the World over ten years ago, I have been fortunate to have engaged with thousands of global scholars and professionals in my search to find meaning in the word “trust.” Among them are these amazing eleven individuals who have chosen to voluntarily serve as members of our Trust Council.

If you are interested in learning about organizational trust, I’d suggest you start here:

Bart Alexander (Colorado)

A Principal at Alexander & Associates LLC Bart’s firm assists leaders, teams and organizations in integrating sustainability into their purpose, strategy and culture.

Donna Boehme (New Jersey)

An internationally recognized authority in the field of compliance and ethics, Donna designs and manages compliance and ethics solutions for a wide spectrum of organizations. Principal of Compliance Strategists, a N.J.-based consulting firm.

Alain Bolea (Boston & Colorado)

A management advisor who helps organizations integrate the necessity of “making money” and the desire to “do the right thing” in terms of sustainability and social responsibility. Alain works with leaders as an executive coach, and consults to organizations on strategy and development using group processes.

Randy Conley (California)

Vice President of Client Services & Trust Practice Leader for The Ken Blanchard Companies, Randy oversees Blanchard’s client delivery operations and works with organizations around the globe helping them build trust in the workplace. Author of the award-winning Leading with Trust blog, Randy is a recognized authority in the field of trust and leadership.

Stephen M. R. Covey (Utah)

Stephen is the New York Times and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything, which has been translated into over 20 languages worldwide. A Harvard MBA, Stephen co-founded and leads Franklin Covey’s Global Speed of Trust Practice.

Charles H. Green (New Jersey & Florida)

An author, speaker, and founder-CEO of Trusted Advisor Associates, Charles co-authored the classic The Trusted Advisor, along with The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook, as well as writing Trust-based Selling. He founded Trusted Advisor Associates in 1999, which helps create trust-based organizations and relationships in complex B2B businesses globally.

Nadine Hack (Switzerland)

Nadine Hack, CEO beCause Global Consulting advises Fortune 500 company executives, heads of state, and other leaders and organizations. She was Board Chair of Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation and served as non-executive director on other for- and not-for profit boards.

Deb Krizmanich (Canada)

Deb is an accomplished business strategist, facilitator and entrepreneur driven by a passion for technologies that unleash the innate potential of individuals and groups. In 2010, she founded Powernoodle to provide a cloud-based platform to leverage the inherent diversity of people and groups to improve how decisions are made and implemented.

Linda Fisher Thornton (Virginia)

An innovative leadership development consultant with a passion for ethical leadership, Linda’s book 7 Lenses, introduces the 7-Lens model for seeing ethical complexity and a holistic model for learning ethical leadership. She teaches leadership and applied ethics as adjunct associate professor for the University of Richmond SPCS.

Bob Vanourek (Colorado)

Leadership expert Bob Vanourek is the former CEO of five companies, ranging from a start-up to a $1 billion NY stock exchange company. Bob is the author of two award-winning books: Leadership Wisdom: Lessons from Poetry, Prose, and Curious Verse and the co-author of Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations.

Bob Whipple (New York)

“The Trust Ambassador,” Bob is CEO of Leadergrow Inc., an organization dedicated to growing leaders. He is an international speaker on the topics of trust and ethics.

Thank you Trust Council members. Here’s to more trust in 2020!

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World 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. Barbara holds a BA in International Affairs from Lafayette College and an MBA from Baruch at the City University of NY.

For more information visit our website at or contact Barbara Brooks Kimmel

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.


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Are financial institutions inherently untrustworthy or is this a simple misconception? 

To answer this question we first must consider how “finance” and “trust” are being defined. Without universally accepted definitions, all financial institutions are painted with one broad brushstroke and consumers among other stakeholders, are left in an ever escalating state of mistrust and confusion. And when the “news” and the latest “study” report that trust in finance is up (or down) this only fuels the fire.

Trust? What are we trusting financial institutions to do, or not do? Safeguard our money, be transparent with fees, earn a good return for shareholders, protect our personal data, treat employees well, provide good customer service, or all of the aforementioned?

Finance? Can global investment banks, regional banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies, financial planners, REITS, and/or a local savings and loans be lumped together when discussing trust in finance? Should they be?

For nine years Trust Across America has been researching and reporting on the trustworthiness of America’s largest 2000 public companies via our proprietary FACTS® Framework. We perform this analysis through a quantitative and objective lens (with no input from the companies themselves)


This is, by order of magnitude, the largest ongoing study ever conducted on trustworthiness at the individual corporate level. Our 2018 data (Russell 1000 only displayed below) concluded that the finance sector remains the lowest in trust, with an average score of 57 on a 1-100 scale. (Down from 58 in 2017). This dataset was finalized in April 2018. It is updated every April.


Copyright 2019 Next Decade, Inc.


But what do these numbers really mean?

Our data also tells a more detailed story, and one that places us in a unique position to discuss trust AND the financial industry. Industry is NOT destiny and those more trustworthy financial institutions suffer at the hands of their less trustworthy colleagues. Take a look at this. Suddenly certain financial industry players look quite a bit better, while some look worse.

Copyright 2019 Next Decade, Inc.



And dissecting the data even further reveals the following:


                                                 Name            Symbol    Sector                        Industry                 FACTS Score

Copyright 2019 Next Decade, Inc.


Some of the major regional banks have high trust scores, while others do not. Again, industry is not destiny.

Trust in financial institutions isn’t necessarily “up” or “down.” That’s simply a news headline. At its core, trust is internal. It is a function of how much leadership cares about its corporate culture, and chooses to embrace the value of trust in meeting the needs of every stakeholder group. For those leaders who are interested in learning more about how to elevate trust internally, please Tap into Trust and take our sample one minute (customizable for any organization or team) quiz.

For all others, keep debating whether trust is “up or down.”

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World 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. 

Purchase our books at this link

For more information on Trust & Integrity in Corporate America purchase our 2018 report. To be among the first to review our research and more fully engage in elevating organizational trust, please consider membership in our vetted Trust Alliance.


Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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The trust “talk” is increasing in frequency and volume, and that’s a good thing. Or is it?


At least leaders are thinking about it. Yet when it comes to defining trust, those same people are either getting stuck (at best) or using the word “trust” as a placeholder (at worst.) When trust is misdefined or misidentified, it not only gets diluted, but stakeholder cynicism quickly builds.  If you choose to talk it, keep in mind that trust takes many forms, each with it own distinct definition. Make sure you are using the right one!

Trust:  (the noun)

Trust: (the verb)

Trustor: (noun)

Trustee: (noun)

Trustworthy: (adjective)

Trusting: (gerund)

Propensity to trust

For those who want (or need) a refresher course, Charlie Green and I wrote this article, complete with definitions (and much more,) almost 3 years ago. And if you want to see how you are doing in the “trust department,” we offer this brand new one-minute quiz. How are you defining trust and how does your organization compare to others?

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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This past week the World Economic Forum held its annual meeting at Davos and the global elite were buzzing like bees around the word “trust.” 

Overlapping was another meeting being held in a remote corner of NJ (of all places), perhaps because the “polar vortex” was about to ground the attendees’ private jets. This gathering was called “Sovad so Good” or “Sovad” for short.)

For those unfamiliar with the annual Davos event, it’s by “invitation only,” and even those who secure an invite might not be able to afford the cost of admission. Most badges require a membership to the World Economic Forum, which costs somewhere between $60,000 and $600,000, plus an additional fee of more than $27,000 per person to get into the conference. (CNBC, January 25, 2019)

Worth noting: Of the 3000 attendees almost 800 were Americans and 22% were women, up from 21% last year! Less than 5% of S&P 500 CEOs are women—that’s just 24 companies. We can’t know how many of those 24 were invited to the event in Davos, but the official attendance list includes four of their names: Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan N.V.; Adena Friedman, CEO of  Nasdaq Inc.;  Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental Petroleum Corp.; and Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM. Quartz, January 21, 2019

Sovad (the other Davos) didn’t include the high price tag (or any admission fee for that matter), nor the “A” list of celebrities like Matt Damon or, and side deals were not being done off stage, probably because there was no stage. (Over 50% of the SOVAD group is women.) No large “trust signs” were erected at the entrance to our gathering like the one leading up to Davos. It was just too darn cold for anyone to want to climb a ladder, especially those in skirts.

CNN reported, ‘Trust is the new buzzword at Davos,” and as Dana Carvey “The Church Lady” liked to say on SNL, “Well isn’t that special.” (Dana and I lived together at one time but that’s a topic for another post.) So what was all the Davos “buzz” on trust about? These were the trust “themes:”

  1. Rebuilding trust (think Facebook.) Sheryl Sandberg was the trust “expert” on this subject.
  2. Trust and technology (digital security, AI, blockchain, etc.)
  3. Trust and innovation
  4. Trust and sustainability
  5. Trust and CEOs “taking stands.”

To the attendees at Davos these are certainly important revenue generating discussions to be having. But do they actually get to the heart of trust, or even move the needle slightly to elevate societal trust? That’s a solid “No.”  Here’s why.

It seems only one trust conversation was missing at Davos, and probably the most important one: How do we move our societal institutions from trust buzz to trust action? And that was the ONLY conversation at Sovad.

So while the fine food and drink flowed, and the planes stayed warm on the tarmac in Switzerland, the Sovad attendees arrived by auto and took the following action over a burger and a beer:

With no revenue generating agenda, we created 12 universal principles for elevating trust and began asking those who didn’t travel to Europe, how that “trust thing” is working in their organization. After all, isn’t that where trust starts (and ends)? Apparently, we struck a chord as over 35,000 unassuming folks from around the world have joined the conversation.

Will you take our brand new (one question/one minute) survey? Find out how your organization compares to others.

Note: Some believe that this year’s gathering was a disappointment on many fronts. Perhaps the word “trust” was simply a placeholder until a “real” topic can be identified for 2020. Kenneth Rogoff, the Harvard economist, summed it up: “This is the flattest Davos I can remember. Normally, there is a star country or a star industry that everybody is talking about. But this year, there is nothing.”

Could it be that the “nothing” has “something” to do with trust?

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

Copyright(c) 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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Celebrating Our 5th anniversary!


Formed in 2013, we are a growing collaborative community focused exclusively on elevating organizational trust by providing enlightened leaders with the “right” tools and resources. Unlike other think tanks, we have advanced our “thinking” to action.


The past twelve months represented a “banner year” for the Alliance as we completed the following projects:

Trust Alliance Project Highlights


  • Named our first 12-member Trust Council comprised of Alliance members who have taken an active role with us in building organizational trust programs over the years.
  • Published our 10th anniversary TRUST! Magazine spring issue, highlighting good governance practices. It’s a gem and should be read by every Board member everywhere!
  • Members contributed to our growing case study library called Trustlets.
  • Dozens of hours were spent coordinating and consulting on TAP (Trust Alliance Principles). Phase II has now begun with a new project launching on January 29, 2019.
  • Global members helped construct our first annual Country Trust Index.
  • The 4th annual Showcase of Service Providers was published.
  • Our 10th anniversary report “Trust & Integrity in Corporate America” (available at ) features the work of many Alliance member, and we published this “2 pager” under the Research tab on our website.

What’s Ahead?


In 2019 we began arming our members with a new actionable trust “tool” delivered every month through our member newsletter.

Why Not Join Us?


If you are interested in rolling up your sleeves and participating with a group of collaborative global professionals, we’d love to consider you for membership.

(Some of our members have been kind enough to add their thoughts on this testimonials page.)


Questions or comments? Feel free to send your thoughts along.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel, CEO and Chief Trust Officer


Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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(A condensed version of this article first appeared on The FCPA Blog)

Recently, the newly appointed CEO of Novartis, Vas Narasimhan, announced that he would be linking employee bonuses to ethics as part of a strategy to rebuild the company’s reputation. Specifics of the scoring system were not divulged. This raises some interesting questions in the trust, ethics and compliance community. Among them, is it ethical to pay people to act ethically or is it a form of bribery? Will these bonuses elevate ethical behavior? What is the minimum “acceptable” behavioral standard to receive a bonus? We asked Trust Across America’s 12-member Trust Council to weigh in. Some of their best answers from both a macro and micro perspective, are provided below.

Ethics is a Company Wide Issue

At Datron, we spend a lot of time in the FCPA world as over 90% of our business is conducted outside the US.  We find that ethics is a company wide issue that encompasses not only your employees but also any organization that represents us in the marketplace.  We have not taken the route of rewarding ethical behavior at the employee level.  We spend the money on training, both in the compliance area and in the “servant” leadership area to ensure that everyone understands the company mission, purpose and how our behaviors (values) are reflected in the work we do.  In our multi-cultural company with over 80 representatives around the world we take compliance to all entities that interface with our customers at any level.  This means that our annual FCPA training is required and annual anti-bribery statements are completed by both employees and our representative companies.  In addition we require all of our representatives to hold current Trace International certifications.  If these items are not completed as required we don’t do business with that organization and don’t let our employee interface with the customer.

In general I would recommend that leaders know what would work best for their organizations.  I personally would not take the approach Novartis has taken just because paying money for a required behavior is too much like a bribe and I believe it sends the wrong message to the organization.  It also says that it is ok to act unethically we just won’t provide you a bonus if you do.  I think requiring behavior in accordance with the company values is a better long-term solution.

I believe that a focus on culture, understanding why it is important for the organization to conduct itself in accordance with it’s core values and spending training dollars to ensure this each and every day is a better investment than providing an annual bonus award.  Art Barter

Influencing Human Behavior

This approach is a good idea for Novartis. We can’t change human nature—there will always be some unethical people. But we can influence human behavior. We influence human behavior through many means: education and training, personal examples and role models, good leadership, shared norms and values, rewards and punishments, and more. Good companies reward (or punish) employees with scoring systems for both achieving goals (results) and “how” those goals are achieved. Scoring a 1 on values and behavior at Novartis (1 = below expectations) makes an employee ineligible to receive a bonus and likely signals they may face demotion or termination. It is a realistic way to grab people’s attention that unethical behavior will no longer be tolerated at this firm. Bob Vanourek

Systematizing Ethical Practices

I applaud Novartis’ efforts to encourage and systematize ethical behavior. Behaving ethically should be the “ticket of admission” for even having a job, but many organizations don’t view it that way. Novartis is taking proactive steps to enforce consequences for salespeople who don’t meet expectations. Randy Conley

Innovation is Key

To determine the best ways to make progress on the trust, transparency and ethics road we have to innovate. To develop proven, repeatable and scalable strategies we all have to be bold enough to try. Novartis is trying. We don’t know the context or risk appetite they are working from so it is hard to objectively review their strategy. To innovate well we have to accept failure and partial successes, learn, pivot and go at it again. The fact that organizations are trying is, in my mind, the thing of value. They will engage in many critical conversations around this project and that dialogue with their employees, partners and board is priceless in the fight for ethics. Deb Krizmanich

Discussing Ethics

Ethical performance — good or bad — is an intrinsic aspect of organizational culture, While company value statements, codes of conduct and compliance training are essential components of an ethical culture, even more important is how organizations react to ethical dilemmas and lapses.  When discussions about ethics are taboo, and individuals are rewarded for unethically achieved results, the culture quickly adapts to this reality without regard to official policy.  In this respect, Novartis is on the right track by explicitly withholding rewards for employees who behave unethically.  Even more telling will be whether discussion of ethics is normalized and unethical behaviors consistently derail careers at the company. Barton Alexander

Payments for Behaving Ethically

There is something prima facie anti-ethical about paying people money to behave ethically. If you have to be paid to be ethical, you’re not. And by reducing ethics to behavioral inducements, the system devalues the ethicality of all actions, regardless of their objective desirability. This reduces ethics to the category of compliance and sales quotas. Charles H. Green

The Devil is in the Details 

Whether the Novartis plan is a good idea to resolve the ethical dry rot is debatable. The devil is in the details, but I would raise a caution flag.  Essentially they are saying that meeting expectations or being a role model for ethical behavior will earn employees extra pay, while not meeting expectations means you get no extra pay, and it could lead to termination. I also do not agree that bringing in Klaus Moosmayer from Siemens to be the ethics tsar is going to make up for poor leadership at the top. Bob Whipple

A further Internet search of the Novartis bonus “plan” revealed the following “anonymous” comment:

This has been in place for over two years. Probably just touting this in the news because of all the recent violations. Reps don’t get an additional bonus. They have money withheld from each bonus period and if their manager sees fit and gives them a good rating, they may or may not get all the money back. So Novartis actually takes money and holds it for a year. Some reps get back more but a lot will actually get back less. The kicker is, they have to still be employed to get that money and it’s only paid out once a year and it’s supposed to be about values and behaviors but it’s still tied to sales. 

The Trust Council jury is split with regard to the ethics of ethics bonuses. To be meaningful ethics and trust must remain a top-down strategy built from the inside out, and only then will they have a long-term impact on organizational reputation.

Trust Across America-Trust Around the World’s Trust Council is an invitation-only advisory group comprised of global business leaders and consultants from a broad cross section of industries and functions who are rotated through membership in our Trust Alliance. The Council serves for twelve months.

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









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If this confidential workplace culture survey were administered, how many of the following ten questions would you answer “yes?” 

(Take the survey below)

  1. Do you trust leadership?
  2. Are you very engaged at work?
  3. Do leaders have the “right” skills to build trust?
  4. Do the words of leadership match their actions?
  5. Does high organizational trust keep you at your job?
  6. Does your company behave ethically?
  7. Is the company culture highly aligned?
  8. Is innovation affected by the culture?
  9. Do you think a high trust culture is responsible for elevating the success of your company?
  10. Has leadership committed to elevating organizational trust?

No doubt these are some tough questions. And while most workplace surveys exclude them, imagine the valuable insights if they were included. And in fact, every one of these questions has been addressed in recent studies conducted by many leading organizations. These are just a few of the answers to the ten questions posed above.

  1. According to and Zenger/Folkman, these two competencies were voted the most important for management positions. “Inspires and motivates others, displays high integrity and honesty.”
  2. According to Deloitte’s Millenial Survey 2018 only a minority of millenials believe businesses behave ethically.
  3. Gallup reports that only 46% of disengaged employees trust management.

Are you surprised by these findings? For the most part, trust in business has stagnated since we began tracking it ten years ago. In Trust Across America’s most recent 2018 study of the trustworthiness of America’s largest public companies only 103 companies in the Russell 1000 scored a 70% or above. The rest failed our test.

In celebration of our 10th anniversary helping organizations build trust, we spent the best part of the past three months assembling a research report called “Trust & Integrity in Corporate America 2018.” The (almost) 50-page report answers every question posed above, and many more. Studies from over 20 leading organizations, trust models addressing individuals, teams, leadership and organizations, highlights of our FACTS® Framework research and many other valuable tools are included.

Good measurement informs uncertain decision-making, and when an organization asks the right questions and measures what matters, leaders make better decisions. While corporate culture, core values, good citizenship, ethics, integrity and trust are commonly believed to be immeasurable intangibles or soft skills, research highlighted in our report points in the direction that these are not only false beliefs, but also that the benefits of an ethical culture far outweigh the costs. Yet most leaders continue to hold fast to the “soft skills” argument because neither they nor their Boards of Directors are thinking about them or reviewing the “right” data or inputs. Trust Across America tackled the “Board challenge” topic in the free spring 2018 issue of TRUST! Magazine.

It’s not uncommon for the following warning signs to be present in organizations when focus is on the wrong “tangibles” and the “soft skills” are misidentified.

  • The organizational culture is a mystery.
  • No clear “ownership” of ethical or trustworthy business practices or decision-making exists.
  • Discussions/training on ethics and trust rarely occur. When they do, they are lead by either the compliance or legal department and focus on rules, not integrity and trust since these attributes are voluntary and cannot be regulated.
  • Discussions of short-term gains and cost cutting dominate group meetings.
  • The pressure to perform is intense and the language used is very strong.
  • The Legal and Compliance departments are large and growing.
  • Ethical considerations/testing are not part of the hiring process and fear is widespread among employees.

Sound familiar? If so, leaders should be asking themselves a series of questions including the following. (Others are addressed in our recent report.)

SUCCESS: What role does trust play in ensuring a healthy culture ultimately impacting the success of your organization?

PERFORMANCE: How is trust tied to high performance, innovation, and sustainability in your organization?

COSTS: What are the costs/implications of not having a high level of trust in your organization?

BENEFITS: What are the payoffs of a trust-based organization for your stakeholders including your employees, customers, community and shareholders?

CULTURE: What values, principles or beliefs does your organization follow that are essential to building a foundation of trust?

What better time then now to start asking the “right” questions, collecting the “right” data and improving the culture for the benefit of all? Wouldn’t it be great if more organizations, including yours, could pass the test? What’s holding you back?

Take our survey here:

[powr-survey id=cc4e6af7_1539436598009]

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


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