Trust in Business – who needs it?
was the title of an excellent lecture given by Ian Powell, Chairman and Senior Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as part of the Distinguished Executive Address Series at UWE in February which I attended along with Sue Stockley from 3 in Partnership Ltd.
It is clear that the current implications of trust across business, government, BBC, NHS, Church, even our food are huge. Society can’t function without trust, which takes decades to build and seconds to lose. Common understanding is founded on trust; it’s the most powerful asset. Trust can impact throughout the company and is absolutely critical to the economy and prosperity. It can’t be bought or sold. You have to earn trust through consistent behaviour. Small things set the tone – pretence won’t do – gaps will be exposed.
More and more actions must be accounted for to millions of people and behaviours need to demonstrate trust. Businesses must display clear communication so as to eliminate any doubts.
At the 13th annual Edelman ‘Trust’ barometer meeting in Davos, having surveyed more than 31,000 respondents in 26 markets around the world, measuring their trust in institutions, industries and leaders, the results showed just 17% trusted in business, 16% in government and 22% in non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
This slide shares gives you the results for Trust in Financial Services and suggests 16 Attributes to build trust
And what about legal enforcements? The UK has probably the highest regulations in international trading but this then sometimes comes ‘at a cost’. Professional businesses account for 8% of the UK economy, with the area around the City of London full of professionals. The legal system in the UK is viewed by many as the best in the world, with many contracts running under English law and many Russian oligarchs choosing to fight legal issues in London!
Mr Powell then spoke about trust and ethics within PWC - some 200,000 staff across offices in 776 locations in 158 countries (according to Google)
- Acting professionally.
- Doing business with integrity.
- Upholding our clients’ reputations as well as our own.
- Treating people and the environment with respect.
- Acting in a socially responsible manner.
- Working together and thinking about the way we work.
- Considering the ethical dimensions of our actions.
Summary of their ethics questions
1. Is it against PwC or professional standards?
2. Does it feel right?
3. Is it legal?
4. Will it reflect negatively on you or PwC?
5. Who else could be affected by this (others in PwC, clients, you, etc.)?
6. Would you be embarrassed if others knew you took this course of action?
7. Is there an alternative action that does not pose an ethical conflict?
8. How would it look in the newspapers?
9. What would a reasonable person think?
10. Can you sleep at night?
Growth is an important business issue for them – seen as the key for the retention and development of talent. They receive 30,000 enquiries p.a. for their graduate programme, interview 7,000 and employ 1,200 graduates p.a. Several of the graduates are now gaining their experience in parts of Eastern Europe or Middle East where there continues to be 25% growth. In addition, in line with their aim to ensure the future of diversity within recruitment, they now employ 100 school leavers with good ‘A’ level grades who will be given exactly the same opportunities as graduates after training.
Sue and I both came away from the lecture full of Mr Powell’s ethos in business.
And, I think my favourite mnemonic sits rather well here…..
S – H – I – T Sincerity, Honesty, Integrity and Trust