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Dealing with the ‘Trust Problem’

There are many things organizations can learn from the recent Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel scandal. A recent New York Times report said that protesters are calling for Emanuel’s resignation in light of the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) lack of transparency in certain cases. In the article, Emanuel said, “we have a trust problem.” Last year, the Department of Justice launched an investigation into the CPD’s accountability mechanisms. Emanuel has been facing intense criticism over his response to police issues, which called into question his commitment to trust.

As Donna Boehme and Barbara Kimmel wrote on a recent FCPA Blog post, trust is increasing in value and should not be compromised. “Trust, like all other elements comprising an organization’s culture, can’t be bought or ‘delegated’ by its leaders, but evolves organically in direct proportion to individuals’ perception of transparency, honesty, fair play and organizational justice,” Boehme and Kimmel said. “Senior leadership of companies would be well advised to think of their organization’s level of trust as the fluctuating result of the ripple effect of leadership’s words and actions at any given time.”

While trust cannot be taught, it is important for CEOs, boards, and members of the C-suite to understand the importance of storytelling and case studies to promote an authentic and transparent workplace.

Amid Emanuel’s scandal, here are a few takeaways from Boehme and Kimmel for companies looking to build and maintain trust:

  • Leaders should take action: “Walk the talk” and create trust as ethical leaders and role models;
  • Promoting trust: Transparency drives an ethical culture;
  • A cover-up is always worse than the issue at hand; and
  • If there’s a problem: Tell it all

More on this topic:

Transparency and building integrity capital are important areas that companies should focus on. If you’d like to learn more about this topic, hear from leading board members at Ethisphere’s 2016 Global Ethics Summit, taking place March 9th and 10th in New York City, where business leaders will convene to discuss how boards can better engage in promoting an ethical corporate culture.

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