Trust in Government and Business has corroded alarmingly- what can be done?

1 August 2023
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Trust: “Our willingness to be vulnerable to the actions of others because we believe that they have good intentions and will behave well towards us”


Trust: “Our willingness to be vulnerable to the actions of others because we believe that they have good intentions and will behave well towards us

Most Australians would have been dismayed in recent weeks by the exposure of a range of diverse instances of breaches of trust:  the Senate inquiry into PwC finds breaches of confidence; ICAC NSW finds a former Premier guilty of corrupt conduct; the Royal Commission finds blatantly unlawful actions by the Federal Government under the Robo-debt program; an inquiry into misconduct at EY finds employees have “low trust in reporting mechanisms on misconduct”.

Are institutions in which we place our trust failing us dramatically?

Trust is the basis for almost everything we do. It’s the foundation on which our laws and contracts are built… it also makes it possible for leaders to create the conditions for employees to fully realise their own capacity and power ‘(HBR May 2020)

In the” 100 Best Companies to Work For” (Fortune) trust comprises two thirds of the criteria since “trust between managers and employees is the primary defining characteristic of the very best workplaces”.

The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that trust in core institutions is declining across the globe. It notes in 2023 “… Australia is on a path to polarization, driven by a series of macro forces that are weakening the country’s social fabric…”  In Australia the government, media and NGOs are all mistrusted by more people than trusted. Only business fares somewhat better and is regarded as slightly more trustworthy. The 2023 Barometer continues: “the expectation for business to take a stand on social issues is putting even greater onus on CEOs to lead the change and be visible in doing so. “

There is a clear path out of the mire. In 2001, Doug Conant took over as CEO of the ailing Campbell Soup Company. He identified: “inspiring trust “as his number one mission. Within a few years, the company had achieved a spectacular turnaround with amongst the highest shareholder returns and highest measured levels of employee engagement in the global food industry. Doug’s trust-building encompassed three core elements: (i) declaring intent- by making a statement he provided stakeholders with a way to measure his actions (ii) demonstrating respect- he did not only say he respected people, he showed it repeatedly;(iii) delivering results- he did the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons.

Leaders like Doug who with conscious intent communicate openly and honestly, who demonstrate empathy and compassion, who encourage every person in the organisation to speak up without fear of retribution and who acknowledge their own mistakes will create a trusting culture within their organisation. And this is the kind of organisation that external stakeholders, customers and others are most likely to trust too. Trust is a virtuous cycle- an inside out and an outside in process. (Click Here : LINK) How is your organisation doing in this regard?