Friday, January 30, 2015

What does trust mean to you?

This week saw the publication of the 2015 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trust. You can see who made the list this year, including 15 Lifetime Achievement Award winners, in the free download of the Winter 2015 magazine issue. I was honored once again to be selected as one of the Top 100, and humbled to be in the company of those I feel are much more deserving of this recognition. This is the 5th year that Trust Across America - Trust Around the World - under the visionary leadership of Barbara Brooks Kimmel - has recognized professionals from business, academia, nonprofits and consulting whose work is elevating organizational trust. The leaders were selected by a distinguished panel of judges  - big names in responsible business - and you can read about them too in the Trust! Magazine Winter Issue. 

The theme of trust is so central to everything we do in sustainability and both a driver and an outcome of sustainable behavior. Several of the lifetime honorees took time to reflect on what trust means to them, and much of what they said resonated strongly with me. For example:

Patricia Aburdene: "In the business world, trust literally transmutes into success and profitability."

Steven M.R. Covey: "Trust underlies and affects the quality of every relationship, every communication, every work project, every business venture, and every effort in which we are engaged."

Jed Emerson: "Confidence in our collaborations with others is the foundation of successful organizations, and the best collaborations are always fundamentally a question of creating a trusting relationship."

Leslie Gaines-Ross:  "Trust is the bedrock of relationships."

Mary Gentile: "Trust means integrity – acting in accordance with our words and commitments—and making sure those words and commitments are worthy of this consistency."

Charles H. Green: "Trust-based organizations encourage and enable the art of trusting and the virtues of trustworthiness in all the personal relationships they touch. In so doing, they also increase the social and financial value of the organization."

Jim Kouzes: "Trust rules your brand image."

Linda Locke: "Trust, and reputation are about how you make people feel. We want to conduct business, and have relationships with people and organizations we respect and hold in high esteem. Trust is a central strategy for business growth in a reputation economy."

Edward Marshall: "We yearn for relationships and organizations that operate with integrity, honor, transparency, and grace. It is possible."

There is no sustainability without trust. There is no business success without trust. Often imperceptibly, trust builds stronger organizations. This got me thinking about the role of sustainability reporting in helping to build and enhance trust in a range of ways. Whose Sustainability Report do you trust and why? And what affects the trust we place, or do not place, in sustainability reporting. This is the topic of a future post (coming soon!). 

In the meantime, each of the 100 Top Thought Leaders in Trust offers inspiration that we can create a business environment that has trust at its core. Barbara Kimmel and Trust Across America is committed to helping us do just that, and the annual honoring of thought leaders, the suite of books published in the Trust Inc. series, the frequent blogs on trust and related matters and the F.A.C.T.S. framework for trustworthy business behavior are all making their impact felt.  

Congratulations to all the 2015 honorees and especially the Lifetime Achievement Award winners!

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of Understanding G4: the Concise Guide to Next Generation Sustainability Reporting  AND  Sustainability Reporting for SMEs: Competitive Advantage Through Transparency AND CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices . Contact me via Twitter (@elainecohen)  or via my business website   (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm).    

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