Views from citizens

Twenty-four members of the public joined us in a ‘Citizens’ Jury’ for two days to consider what they felt businesses needed to do to build trust in society. Read a snapshot of the actions they came up with.

The Citizens' Jury 

The 24 members of the public who took part in our Citizens’ Jury on Trust in Business in March 2015 proposed a wide range of tangible actions for businesses to take to build trust in society. Three over-arching themes emerged:

  • Going beyond the profit motive and regulatory requirements – Businesses should be proactive in taking actions that will benefit others. 
  • Being consistent in their approach to building trust – The jurors wanted to see values and beliefs reflected in consistent actions across the business. 
  • Demonstrating authenticity through relevance – Businesses should show the authenticity of initiatives to build trust by ensuring they remain relevant to that business.

Our citizen jurors discussed how they thought businesses should behave in relation to four important groups: employees, customers, suppliers, and society more broadly.

Building trust by treating staff well

Citizens saw the way businesses treat their employees as a powerful driver of trust as it was considered to be reflective of a deeper set of values. Recommended actions included:

  • Providing jobs that are more than just jobs and support your people – ensuring the relationship with staff goes beyond the transactional and is based on mutual respect and aligned goals.
  • Being open about how the business is doing –fostering an open relationship with staff by bringing employees into conversations about the business’s performance and direction.
  • Giving staff the power and incentives to be truly helpful – incentivising and trusting employees to act in the best interests of the customer and demonstrating that they are trusted to do so.

Building trust by considering the needs of customers

Taking the time and effort to consider the needs of customers – and taking proactive, unprompted actions to meet their needs - was seen as another strong indicator of trustworthiness. Recommendations included:

  • Ensuring that customers experience a genuine human interaction at some point in their customer journey.
  • Thinking through the customer experience and fixing anything that’s difficult
  • Listening to customers and showing how you’re acting on their feedback
  • Being there when customers need you.

Building trust by treating suppliers fairly

Most jurors’ limited experience of businesses’ relationships with suppliers made this harder to consider. Recommendations for trust-building actions in this area included:

  • Having fair and ethical contracts with suppliers – treating them with respect.
  • Having a system for standing by suppliers in difficult times – demonstrating a long-term commitment to them.

Building trust through your impact on society

The relationship between businesses and wider society was less clearly established in citizens’ minds, pointing to opportunities for businesses to demonstrate its positive contribution. Recommendations for trust-building actions in this area included:

  • Starting local and building from there – establishing the business as a local presence and demonstrating that it has a stake in the wider community; that it’s ‘on the same side’ as local people.
  • Giving back what is taken out – showing that business is committed to making a contribution to society.
  • Taking positive steps to improve the environment – not just complying with the rules, but demonstrating an active interest in long-term sustainability and negating environmental impacts.
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