The PwC Student Challenge attracted over 150 ideas from more than 800 students all of whom were asked ‘what can businesses do to tangibly build trust in society'.
We used our crowdsourcing platform ‘PwC One’ to gather the views of students. As the ideas were submitted the students nominated and contributed collaboratively to those they liked. The ideas that came out near the top fell into three categories: doing the right thing for customers; demonstrating and valuing transparency; and demonstrating an investment in society.
Here are the 10 ideas that stood out:
Show customers how you price your products – Charge reasonable prices and ensure there are no hidden fees; don’t use unethical practices, even if it means having to charge more; and avoid aggressive marketing.
Stick to promises made to customers – Ensure good, and equal customer service; be open about policies that could directly affect customers - uphold warranty promises; and ensure a ‘no strings attached’ contract actually has no strings.
Annual reports for all – Boost public understanding of the business by producing a summary annual report with simple infographics that are understandable at a glance and easily digestible.
External assessment of a business’s trustworthiness – Trust stems from transparency which might be improved through an independent trust assurance scheme and rating system. As with current assurance schemes, companies could join the trust scheme by meeting a set of qualifying requirements.
Businesses showing they value the opinion of all members of society - A ‘Trust in Business’ awards programme could be created, judged by a diverse panel from across society, with categories including diversity, sustainability, transparency and ethical practices.
A crowdsourcing platform for public-private investment – An internet-based, social media-enabled crowdsourcing programme could enable broad access to social enterprise ventures that directly impact those voting for them. The public could propose and vote for public service or social enterprise projects that businesses may wish to invest in.
Give consumers the choice of charity to give to – A business could present every customer with a range of charities linked to its corporate purpose, and let them choose which one will receive an agreed proportion of their payment.
Scholarships for students – Companies could fund university scholarships for students who may otherwise not be able to afford further education. The scholarship could be part of the social responsibility programme while also helping companies find future talent.
Pay taxes correctly and transparently – Being seen to contribute a fair share of tax has an immediate impact on trust.
Take extra measures to improve the lives of staff, suppliers and customers – Like paying the living wage and selling high-quality products even if it means charging more.