Future of companies, trust

When the World Economic Forum released the Davos Manifesto 2020, it signaled a shift in the corporate world. Shareholder primacy is no longer the only purpose of a business. Emerging as the new requirement is creating sustained value for all stakeholders and reconciling their divergent interests. And just as their role is evolving, CEOs are facing increasing scrutiny from the media and the public. All this has meant that CEOs and senior business leaders today have to lead with trust at the forefront, what happens when trust is lost, how to regain it, and how to actively build it.

Trust is essential for the functioning of society and the economy. We rely on others to act with integrity and honesty. We expect governments, businesses, and organizations of all types to deliver on their promises and conduct themselves ethically and responsibly. The rise of complex and polarizing societal forces, the pace of technological change, free access to information, and the demands of a new generation of consumers and workers are changing the nature of business leadership, influencing the call for a bold vision, a renewed sense of purpose, and new models of thinking. Furthermore, these shifts are leading to business leaders being held more accountable in living up to their slogans of purpose.

In a changing environment that is reshaping the nature of how business is conducted, senior business leaders are faced with the challenge of measuring trust among their different stakeholders and identifying and understanding the levers available to manage trust. As we reflect on the lessons of the last decade and set out to explore how businesses can build and sustain trust, Deloitte leaders deliberated over three key questions that form the basis of our three-part series on trust:

  • In an increasingly complex world, how can executives understand what trust means to the different stakeholders an organization serves and how can they balance stakeholders’ competing interests?
  • What industries do Canadians find more trustworthy and what factors do they value most when evaluating the trust-worthiness of an organization?
  • What levers can CEOs and board members influence to measure, monitor, build, and nurture trust among their numerous stakeholders?

The fundamental element of all relationships

Trust is the foundational element of relationships that becomes conspicuous in its absence. Many of the executives we spoke with appreciated the importance of trust in navigating complexity during times of change. They also identified the need to build or rebuild trust with not only their shareholders and consumers but also their employees, suppliers, regulators, and the communities in which they operate.

We highly recommend to read Deloitte’s study about trust. Read the article here.