Apr
06

Jan
13

by Barbara Brooks Kimmel

Now that the year has drawn to a close and a new one has begun, I am reminded of the similarities between the 2008 financial crisis and the market instability of 2022. In fact as Reuters recently reported, Wall Street ended the year with the biggest annual drop since 2008, as the global stock and bond markets shed more than $30 trillion dollars. And sadly as we head into 2023, the prevailing mood among both investors and the general public is fear, and fear is the opposite of trust. The chart below shows the outcome when trust replaces fear.

What lessons, if any, has the investment community learned over the past 14 years?

Consider these:

  1. Ten+ years past the 2008 financial crisis, little has changed to increase investor confidence in the ethical decision making practices of business leaders and the titans of Wall Street.
  2. It is not valuation, liquidity, or profits that keeps many investors on the sidelines. It is a lack of trust.
  3. We continue to see high profile business scandals, accounting coverups, out of touch compensation practices and a leveraged lending fiasco with no end in sight.
  4. Many investment professionals and investors are choosing to take their guidance from the wrong teachers who may be placing their own short-term interests first.

How do we learn from these lessons and move forward as we head into 2023? The solution is very simple. The industry must turn its attention to building trust.

Trustworthy companies outperform their peers with less risk

In the wake of the financial crisis I started a program called Trust Across America with the mission of helping organizations build trust. One of our first challenges was to make the “business case for trust” having been told that without proving that trust works, business leaders would ignore us. With the assistance of dozens of cross silo professionals, in 2012 we finalized a model to evaluate the trustworthiness of public companies, incorporating quantifiable metrics and data and named it the FACTS® Framework, an acronym that includes five drivers or indicators of trustworthy business behavior. They are:

  • Financial stability
  • Accounting conservativeness
  • Corporate governance
  • Transparency
  • Sustainability

When we began this research over ten years ago we were also told that a ten year tracked record would be required before serious consideration could be given to our model. Having recently reached that milestone, in June 2022 we retained Index One, a global index creation firm based in London to evaluate our FACTS® Framework versus major US indexes.” The results:

  • The top 50 FACTS® companies outperformed IWD by 47%, 15.46% vs.10.51%
  • The top 100 FACTS® companies outperformed IWD by 52.9%, 16.07% vs. 10.51% for IWD          
  • Index One also performed the same analysis using the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) ETF. 16.07% (50 companies) and 15.46% (100 companies) respectively vs. 15.27% for SPY.

Further evidence of the outperformance of trustworthy companies is contained in this ten+ year study published in November 2021, and covered in Investor’s Daily in May 2022. It is, by order of magnitude, the most comprehensive and data driven analysis available regarding the trustworthiness of public companies. It speaks to both the public and the financial industry’s understanding of trust, supports trust based investment decision making and enables targeted and simplified trust portfolio construction. 

Vast amounts of money remain parked in low yielding money market accounts and other underperforming investments. By delivering a time tested and “beyond reproach” strategy to investors combining the key drivers of corporate trustworthiness, Trust Based Investing can become the solution that both the industry and the public has been seeking.

Some may be curious as to how our Trust Index performed in 2022. We finished up close to 1% in a year when the S&P 500 declined almost 20%.

Don’t Take Our Word for the Importance of Trust

Building a trustworthy business will improve a company’s profitability and organizational sustainability. A growing body of evidence shows increasing correlation between trustworthiness and superior financial performance. Over the past decade, a series of qualitative and quantitative studies have built a strong case for senior business leaders to make stakeholder trust building a high priority. While none of these studies are perfect, their results are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.

  • Research shows that 30% of a company’s value is at risk where trust is broken with the public and external stakeholders. Those CEOs who have a proactive approach to crisis planning view simulation training and drills as an investment. They also see it as a way to test and build the trust and confidence of their teams. It hones and develops leadership and communication skills, builds coherence and cross-functional support. *McKinsey & Company research in Connect: How companies succeed by engaging radically with society – 2015 – John Browne, Robin Nuttall, Tommy Stadlen
  • According to the proprietary FACTS® Framework research conducted by Trust Across America-Trust Around the World, on average, and over the long-term, the “Top 10″ most trustworthy public companies have significantly outperformed the S&P 500 over 10 years, 5 years and 3 years.
  • Only 7 percent of Americans believe that major company CEOs have high ethical standards, and only 9 percent have a very favorable opinion of major companies. Only 42 percent Americans trust major companies to behave ethically, down from 47 percent last year. Public Affairs Council, 2018
  • Today, only a minority of millennials believe businesses behave ethically (48 percent vs 65 percent in 2017) and that business leaders are committed to helping improve society (47 percent vs 62 percent in 2017). Deloitte Millenial Survey 2018
  • In an innovation survey published by PriceWaterhouseCoopers in the early 2000s, trust was identified as a key characteristic of innovative companies

In conclusion

The business case for both trust and Trust Based Investing is being made. Trust Based Investing provides the following:

  • Companies have proven through a rigorous analysis that they are trustworthy and represent lower investment risk.
  • Investors can be assured that both business and investment decisions are being made ethically.
  • The most trustworthy companies have stable and strong investment returns.
  • A virtuous cycle is created. As investment money flows into the hands of these companies, other companies will want to follow suit and become more trustworthy.

In the words of Warren Bennis “Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.”

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is an author, speaker, product developer and global subject matter expert on trust and trustworthiness. Founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World she is author of the award-winning Trust Inc., Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset, Trust Inc., 52 Weeks of Activities and Inspirations for Building Workplace Trust and Trust Inc., a Guide for Boards & C-Suites. She majored in International Affairs (Lafayette College), and has an MBA (Baruch- City University of NY). Her expertise on trust has been cited in Harvard Business Review, Investor’s Business Daily, Thomson Reuters, BBC Radio, The Conference Board, Global Finance Magazine, Bank Director and Forbes, among others. 

To obtain more information please visit the contact page on our website or

barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

Dec
26

The business case for trust is indisputable. As the chart below shows, for the past eleven years our Trust 200 Index, a diversified mix of the most trustworthy public companies has handsomely rewarded those who chose trust as a strategic imperative. This includes business leaders and their stakeholders, and also investors. Yet we seem to be stuck in a trust free fall across most societal institutions. Why is that?

It’s certainly not due to lack of interest in the subject of trust nor a shortage of those attempting to monetize trust. In fact, 2022 may have been a banner year for new trust initiatives. Many of the large advisory firms have boarded the trust train, yet their initiatives continue to skirt the two key challenges of trust building. What are they? Find out by reading my most recent article on Medium.

If you would like more information on the fixes described in the article, or would like to help build solutions please contact me.

.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is an author, speaker, product developer and global subject matter expert on trust and trustworthiness. Founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World she is author of the award-winning Trust Inc., Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset, Trust Inc., 52 Weeks of Activities and Inspirations for Building Workplace Trust and Trust Inc., a Guide for Boards & C-Suites. She majored in International Affairs (Lafayette College), and has an MBA (Baruch- City University of NY). Her expertise on trust has been cited in Harvard Business Review, Investor’s Business Daily, Thomson Reuters, BBC Radio, The Conference Board, Global Finance Magazine, Bank Director and Forbes, among others.

Oct
03

Announcing New Programs Designed to Move Trust from Talk to Action

 

2023 Top Thought Leaders in Trust  Nominations are now open and we look forward to bringing this program back after a one year pandemic hiatus.

More information here.

 

 

 

 

Trust Academy: Real Cases Real Solutions in Trust & Ethics You are invited to sharpen your pencils and submit your cases. An urgent need exists for a global case study library to enable leaders and organizations to access solutions to trust and ethics challenges. Trust Academy cases will be published in a master library on our website commencing in January 2023. Contact me at for participation instructions.

And in case you missed it new material on our website including:

 

Results of our 10 year study on trustworthy public companies  Read more here.

 

 

 

 

A brand new infographic on Trust and Leadership

Special thanks to David Grossman at The Grossman Group. View it here.

 

 

 

An updated timeline of TAA-TAW programs going back almost 15 years!

Read more here.

 

 

Did you know that over 170,000 global citizens have now Tapped Into Trust with hundreds taking our 1 minute/1 question quiz.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel, Founder Trust Across America-Trust Around the World

Jul
14

Trust Across America-Trust Around the World announces its

Most Trustworthy Public Companies 2022

 

 

Published annually for the past 12 years via our Corporate Integrity Monitor, these are a few highlights from our current rankings of the S&P 500.

  • We use our proprietary model called the FACTS® Framework to create the rankings.
  • Companies do not participate in our research nor do we receive compensation.
  • This year over 200 companies in the S&P 500 received a failing grade below 60%.
  • The average score of our “Top 10” companies this year is a 73%.
  • The 10 companies comprise 6 of 16 business sectors.

For more information contact

Trust Across Across America-Trust Around the World

Mar
25

I recently published an article titled Twelve Ways to Kill Stakeholder Trust. It explained how “check the box” practices will not fix trust. Why is that? Because trust is interpersonal and starts with your people who do not fit into square boxes. Leaders who are counseled to perform trust work arounds, while calling them trust, should have no expectations of trust improving. In fact, they are elevating organizational risk by failing to commit to being consistently and continuously involved in trust building activities. Said another way, those who choose to delegate expensive box checking activities and treat trust as a soft skill will continue to build on their current trust deficit.

The article concluded with a promise to provide some actionable steps that business leaders can take to elevate trust. I asked some of our Trust Alliance members to provide their suggestions and selected the twelve most actionable responses. They are offered in no particular order. Each action stands alone as a powerful step in elevating trust. Pay careful attention to the words highlighted in bold. Read the actions published on Medium by clicking here.

Find out how you can elevate trust the “right” way.

Start by answering this one question (it will take no more than one minute and your response is 100% anonymous) and compare your response to 700 others.

And then learn more at this link.

Mar
04

by Barbara Brooks Kimmel, Founder Trust Across America-Trust Around the World

How many of the following trust substitutes are present in your organization? The larger the organization the more prevalent these work arounds are becoming and the faster they are multiplying, crushing any hopes for long-term sustainable trust.

These days it does not take much to lose stakeholder trust given that most organizations have failed to build that essential trust bank account. Now, facing a low balance, many companies are scrambling to find a quick and easy deposit into their account. That is not how trust is built. There are no quick fixes and work arounds are dangerous, further eroding trust despite what leaders are being told. These trust substitutes fail time after time and then like clockwork a new one takes its place. If history has taught any lessons, they will also fail. And how many times should the same mistake be forgiven? For example, excessive employee turnover currently occurring in some companies tells me that the time has come to stop treating trust like a soft skill that can be taken for granted. The business case for trust has been made. It is time to start paying attention to it.

Are you part of the problem?

In 2010 I approached a colleague, a relatively well known consultant to senior management and boards, who had recently published a new book. In it he highlighted one of his clients as a role model for others in their industry. Our FACTS® Framework data told another story (see chart below.) I approached him in confidence, shared our data, and suggested he present it to his client. His response shocked me. “Why would I bring this “bad” news to my client? It might be the end of my very lucrative consulting contract. I’ve got college bills to pay.” Did I fail to mention that his specialty was/is crisis repair/reputation management? That was over 10 years ago. What has changed?

Expensive Trust “Cures” that Will Kill Any Hope of Trust

The following is a list of some of the most egregious trust violations happening every day under the leadership of those who should know better. If you find this list offensive please think about why you are having that reaction. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

  1. Unwillingness to acknowledge or take ownership of trust. Delegating it to corporate communications or the PR department, or these days maybe compliance or audit.
  2. Excluding freedom of expression and opinions from the “Diversity & Inclusion” program.
  3. Talking about the importance of data privacy while installing the latest surveillance software upgrades on subordinates computers (and referring to them as subordinates.)
  4. Putting customers before employees.
  5. Telling customers how important they are while they wait on hold.
  6. Filling the next Board seat with an ESG “guru” instead of the most competent candidate. And speaking of ESG, checking that box with carbon offsets.
  7. Following massive layoffs with big annual raises and bonuses for those in the C-Suite.
  8. In the interest of profitability, overlooking the long-term supply chain risk of relying on foreign manufacturers while local suppliers are forced out of business. (The current drug supply debacle is an excellent learning opportunity.)
  9. Treating trust like a short-term “soft serve” flavor of the day instead of a long-term business strategy.
  10. Making the compliance budget the largest and hiring more compliance staff.
  11. Taking a “stand” not because of a belief in the cause but because PR thinks it’s a good idea.
  12. Spending big money on a great place award or better yet a motivational speaker, while employees are told there is no budget for salary increases. (And maybe employees completing satisfaction surveys should not be coached on which boxes to check and their responses should remain anonymous.)

Kick Those Trust Busting Recommendations to the Curb

So what should should business leaders do?

  • Start by refusing to make these trust busting business decisions and challenge the advisors who are recommending them. Remember, they are in the business of creating dependency.
  • Assign an internal team to review the trust violations occurring in your organization and fix them.
  • Make each “fix” your next BIG PR announcement. It will be meaningful and your stakeholders will applaud and reward you. Rinse and repeat.
  • Do not allow anyone to tell you that any of these violations can be ignored.
  • Do not shrug this list off because your peer group is choosing to do so. The longer you do, the less trust you will have. You may have lots of “friends at the top” but your trust bank account will remain low and the next crisis may just be your last.
  • Take this list seriously. Do not toss it until every violation is fixed.

Getting back to the story at the beginning of the article. This is the historical FACTS® data on the referenced company.

Somewhere in the middle of the chart the company paid one of the largest fines in the industry’s history. My guess is the same consultant was called in on the reputation repair team.

Our next article will provide some actionable and workable ideas to build trust. We are gathering the best suggestions from our Trust Alliance members and Top Thought Leaders and will be sharing them soon.

Contact us for more information.

Dec
17

Introducing the Trust Across America-Trust Around the World 

2022 Playbook for Building Systemic Trust…

 

 

THE WHY

These turbulent times have created a unique opportunity for enlightened and ethical leaders to foster an inspiring, inclusive, innovative, engaged, safe and enduring work environment. That means taking trust beyond talk to action, and placing it in the center of the business strategy.

The twelve principles comprising The “Art” of Trust™” were collaboratively created over the course of many years by a group of leading global trust scholars and practitioners who are members of our Trust Alliance. They have been tested and used with dozens of teams and organizations. In fact, these universal principles, known by the acronym Tap Into Trust or TAP, have been accessed over 150,000 times. They provide a common language for discussing the behaviors that build high stakeholder trust, beginning internally and working outwards. Trust can be a learned competence. Understanding its behavioral components takes the emphasis away from arriving at a common definition and towards a common language. Our framework also provides a less threatening, concise and action friendly trust building solution.

THE HOW 

Our 2022 playbook is designed to assist both team and organizational leaders in elevating interpersonal trust and then applying those skills to other stakeholders. Each month we will showcase one of our twelve principles, provide our monthly visual cue, a description of the behavior, team discussion questions, and additional resources including case studies. While every team faces unique trust challenges at different times, these twelve behaviors represent the most common ones that build or break trust. Sharing this playbook and having a scheduled team conversation about the monthly principle will bring the group closer to high trust by year end.

That’s our promise and our gift to you for 2022. Visit our website, hit the contact button and send us a note, or email info@trustacrossamerica.com. The playbook is free and will be delivered monthly via Constant Contact.

Let’s get started!

Barbara Brooks Kimmel, Founder Trust Across America-Trust Around the World

 

Jun
29

How does YOUR workplace track TRUST?

To date, over 46% of 600+ survey respondents say “Tracking” trust is lacking in their workplace. 

That’s not surprising considering that in most workplaces:

Leadership either ignores trust or takes it for granted until the inevitable crisis

Trust is mistaken for a “soft” intangible

No silo “owns” trust and therefore there is no budget for it

 

Yet in reality, trust may be a leader’s MOST important and MOST frequently ignored key performance indicator.

Tracking is the final of *12 behaviors in our Tap Into Trust (TAP) framework having now been accessed over 150,000 times in 16 languages.

Tracking is NOT about measuring trust, since trust is an outcome of principled behaviors, not a measurable input.  Tracking is about ensuring that the organizational values and behaviors that build stakeholder trust are learned, understood, role modeled, practiced and reinforced by leadership.  It’s about building the right principled behaviors over time and in incremental steps, and tracking and measuring those behaviors. Only then can the goal of “trust” be achieved. Trust is built from the inside out. This is what creates organizational value.

The next time you hear the claim that trust is a “top” priority, on an organization’s agenda, or being measured, see if you can find any details that describe the actions being taken to elevate trust. Who is advising leadership to use the word “trust” and why? Is it in response to the latest crisis? Is it more than “feel good” talk? Is the organization checking its trust box by hiring that expensive motivational speaker? The word “trust” is way too often attached to a delegated and budgeted “benchmark” or measure like branding, crisis/reputation management, diversity & inclusion, ESG, customer service, data security and AI. These are short-term box checking and easy to sell programs, not to be confused with building long-term sustainable trust. It’s trust, not perception of trust that makes or breaks an organization over time.

Trust Across America-Trust Around the World recently created The “Art” of Trust visual “cues” to start a discussion about workplace behaviors that build and weaken stakeholder trust. Together these cues form a “Wall” of Trust to enhance learning and retention.

In building team and stakeholder trust, we describe “Tracking” as follows:

We define and scorecard our performance against our value and values – we measure both.

Our Trust Alliance members suggest the following discussion questions to track workplace trust.

        1. Are our goals encouraging the right behaviors or causing people to do wrong things?
        2. How do we react to those achieving “good results” when accomplished by means contrary to our values?

The “Art” of Trust  is one of many resources designed for our Trust Action Project to help leaders, teams and organizations move from trust talk to ACTION in 2021 and beyond.

Would you like to build a Wall of Trust for your team? Take the first step.

 

 

Join our global Trust Alliance and participate in our programs.

Learn more about the Trust Action Project 2021 at this link.

*TAP INTO TRUST is an acronym. The 12 behaviors are equally weighted. The weakest behaviors break the trust chain.

Copyright 2021, Next Decade, Inc.

Jun
24

 

Trust Across America-Trust Around the World

announces its Most Trustworthy Public Companies 2021

 

Published annually in June via our Corporate Integrity Monitor, these are a few highlights from our current rankings:

  1. This is our 11th year tracking and publicly reporting on the trustworthiness of the largest public companies.
  2. Our proprietary model called the FACTS® Framework is used to analyze companies and create the rankings.
  3. Companies do not participate in our research nor do we receive compensation.
  4. This year we are reporting on the S&P 500. Microsoft is the highest ranked company to receive recognition.
  5. Since the financial crisis of 2008 FACTS® scores have remained relatively flat. This year 36% of companies in the S&P 500 received a failing grade below 60%.
  6. This year our “Top 10” companies have an average score of 76.4%.
  7. The 10 companies comprise 6 of 16 business sectors.
  8. Five of the 2021 “Top 10” were also honored in 2020.
  9. The “Top 10” companies have an average of 36.7% women on the Board, up from 33% in 2020.
  10. Five of the ten CEOs have MBAs and have been in their current position for 5 years or more.

 

 

Our research is, by order of magnitude, the most comprehensive and fact-based ongoing study of the trustworthiness of public companies. We perform a quarterly analysis and rank order by company, sector and market capitalization.

Our 2020 announcement can be accessed at this link. As of June 19, these companies collectively produced a 27.67% return to investors in approximately one year

For more information contact Barbara Kimmel, CEO, Trust Across America-Trust Around the World

Copyright 2021, Next Decade, Inc.

Jun
22

 How “safe” is your workplace?

Is honesty encouraged or is “mum” the word?

To date, over 20% of 600+ survey respondents say “Safety” is lacking in their workplace. Is it lacking in yours? 

We certainly hear lots of “buzz” around “speak up” cultures and psychological safety. How often does this translate into action?

Safety is not rule based. It can’t be delegated to EH&S, legal or compliance. Leadership either chooses to embed it into the core values of the organization, model and reinforced it daily, or they do not.

 

Safety is the eleventh of *12 behaviors in our Tap Into Trust (TAP) framework having now been accessed over 150,000 times in 16 languages.

Trust Across America-Trust Around the World recently created The “Art” of Trust visual “cues” to start a discussion about workplace behaviors that build and weaken stakeholder trust. Together these cues form a “Wall” of Trust to enhance learning and retention.

In building team and stakeholder trust, we describe “Safety” as follows:

We call out unethical behavior or corrupt practices – we make it safe to be honest with no fear of reprisal.

Our Trust Alliance members suggest the following discussion questions to elevate safety and build workplace trust.

      1. How do we fix an unsafe culture?
      2. Have we created an environment in which all members of our organization can share honest input?

The “Art” of Trust  is one of many resources designed for our Trust Action Project to help leaders, teams and organizations move from trust talk to ACTION in 2021 and beyond.

Would you like to build a Wall of Trust for your team? Take the first step.

 

 

Join our global Trust Alliance and participate in our programs.

Learn more about the Trust Action Project 2021 at this link.

*TAP INTO TRUST is an acronym. The 12 behaviors are equally weighted. The weakest behaviors break the trust chain.

Copyright 2021, Next Decade, Inc.