3 Ways Your Business Can Build Trust In Precarious Times

Around the world, trust is in crisis. GlobalGiving offers three solutions for your company.


Around the world, trust is in crisis. The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that—for the first time ever—trust in business, government, NGOs, and the media has broadly declined. Business is in a particularly precarious position.

Trust in business has declined to the point where it is now on the brink of distrust by the public, according to the report. Yet, business is actually the most trusted institution among the uncertain. Edelman advisers stress that companies at this critical juncture have a responsibility to earn back trust and maintain it, while also supporting the efforts of government, NGOs, and media to do the same. Three out of four respondents to the Edelman survey (and even higher among millennials) agree that a company can take actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social well-being of the community.

How can your company overcome the trust crisis? Transparent, inclusive, and authentic action is needed to rebuild trust—and to maintain it. Here’s a look at a few companies getting the “trust formula” right:

    1. Be transparent.

    Dell EMC and Patagonia are two companies that get transparent action right. Dell EMC empowers their employees to support education, food, and water projects around the world. They provide charitable gift cards to employees who are new to the company or celebrating a service anniversary. Employees not only have the ability to donate through a custom-made giving page on GlobalGiving, but they also can see the number of total projects, top projects, and top countries funded. They also receive quarterly updates on how the project used the funds.

    In many respects, Patagonia was one of the founding implementers of corporate social responsibility. Its leaders continue to innovate, especially when it comes to transparency. This year a decade ago the outdoor retailer first published the Footprint Chronicles with one goal: to be completely honest about where the products come from and the resources required to create them. Today, the communications outlet, and the company behind it, still stand as an exemplar of transparency.

    2. Foster inclusivity.

    It’s always dismaying to see a company’s social responsibility activities restricted to its headquarters or corporate office, excluding some employees inadvertently like those with positions in factories and retail stores. Not so at Gap Inc. The company used GlobalGiving Gift Cards to reward retail and corporate employees for volunteer efforts.

    Conversely, it’s heartening to see a company contribute to social impact through more than its foundation or CSR department. Nike, for instance, is taking inclusive action in its actual product development. In March 2017, the company announced plans to launch a specially-designed hijab for Muslim women athletes.

    3. Be authentic.

    Transparency and inclusivity only go so far without authenticity. But being authentic is more than “being yourself.” Authentic action demonstrates consistency between a company’s words and deeds. Kimberly-Clark, for example, one of the largest players in the global tissue paper market, has committed to help solve the global sanitation crisis. Its “Toilets Change Lives” program supports entrepreneurs developing innovative sanitation technology.

    For Lyft, this means staying true to the company values and supporting employees in doing the same. To cultivate a culture that embodies one of their values, to “Uplift Others,” the ride-sharing company encourages employees to participate in community service work, including partnering with nonprofit and student groups. Indeed, “no single action is more interconnected with building trust than treating employees well,” confirms Ben Boyd, President and CEO of Edelman Canada and Latin America.

To rebuild and maintain trust in business, companies must start with transparent, inclusive, and authentic action. They must work together with governments, NGOs, and media to put people—customers and employees alike—at the center of everything they do.

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Featured Photo: Fiji Cyclone Disaster Response by ActionAid International USA

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