Views from future leaders

In 2015, our Building Public Trust jury brought together more than 35 future leaders from public, private and not-for-profit organisations. Our jury’s objective was to explore the qualities and behaviours that drive trust in business, and identity how these can be turned into tangible actions to help businesses build trust. A snapshot of the jury's views is reflected below.

The top five key stakeholders that our Building Public Trust jury felt businesses needed to focus on were employees, customers, communities, suppliers and shareholders. And the top three qualities and behaviours were integrity, authenticity and transparency.

Employees: Build and embed a culture of trust

Trust building actions with employees begin with the creation of an explicit, publicly-stated core purpose and values. These then feed into three focus areas:


  • Communication and engagement: such as CEOs holding ‘open houses’ for employees.
  • Setting values-based policies and goals: implement policies around goals like diverse recruitment and flexible working
  • Monitor and reward behaviour: this includes ‘holding up your hands’ about any wrong-doing by employees, and being open about actions taken in response. Create a reward system that focuses on how people have done things, not just what they’ve done.

Customers: go the extra mile in transparency and collaboration

  • emonstrate authenticity with customers by aligning your actions with the explicit values of your organisation.
  • Collaborate with customers and exhibit integrity by gathering and acting on their feedback. Respond quickly to customers concerns and empower employees to do the right thing for customers off their own bat.
  • Demonstrate transparency and publish full information rather than cherry-picking what to report. Be more transparent than is legally required; consider putting customer representatives on the board.

Communities: forge mutually beneficial partnerships

The starting-point for building trust with communities is identifying which communities to focus on and why. This feeds into six specific actions:

Suppliers: create closer relationships based on shared aspirations

Businesses can build on their vision and values to create solid and more responsive two-way relationships with suppliers. These can ultimately extend to true partnerships, where the business and its suppliers have good personal relationships and work together collaboratively to solve problems. Actions for businesses include being more open with suppliers around selection criteria and pricing, and fostering clear mutual understanding of how the business and its suppliers will work together from the start. For example, an employer committed to moving towards the living wage can encourage this same aspiration along its supply chain. Or it can collaborate with suppliers to share expertise and resources around customers, training or advocacy.

Shareholders: articulate and demonstrate a clear direction

Building trust with shareholders essentially comes down to being a well-run business that has clear goals and is transparent about how well it’s delivering against them.

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