Trust is the Currency for Building Business Relationships: The E&C Pulse - November 27, 2019

November 27, 2019 Ben DiPietro

Nov. 27, 2019

Trust: The Currency for Building Business Relationships 


Recent DOJ guidance spelled out in explicit terms the necessity for an organization’s senior leadership to clearly articulate the company’s ethical standards.


While that is enough of a business case in itself for an organization to develop a strong culture based on values, ethics, and mission, there is another reason: employee trust.


Research from Ethisphere Institute found while 92% of respondents said they would report misconduct if they saw it, only 54% did. Six in 10 who do report go to their direct supervisor; 22% used a hotline.


What this shows is a need to emphasize awareness within middle managers, and to develop within them the listening skills they need to help foster open dialogue, LRN’s Dr. Marsha Ershaghi Hames said last week during a panel discussion at the Corporate Counsel Business Journal’s Women in Business and Law event in New York.


It’s needed, as she pointed out research that shows as few as 2% of managers are trained on how to listen.


“Most people are promoted into management because of their technical ability, not because they know how to lead, how to engage, how to foster dialogue,” said Hames. 


Trust has emerged as a currency around how to build relationships, she said, and how an employee perceives the leadership team, the governing board, middle management, she said. Whether they feel they have accessibility to those people matters. 


Stacey Babson-Smith, vice president and chief ethics and compliance officer of Terex Corp., said for many people their most trusted relationship is with their employer, and that’s why trust is such a business imperative.


“If they trust you, it will impact your bottom line,” said Babson-Smith. “You will be better risk managers, you will have employees who advocate for you, who are loyal to you, who are engaged and really want to promote your business. But you have to do what is necessary to get them to trust you. … People will tell you what is going on if they trust you.”


She works to earn trust by being an ambassador for ethics and compliance. As Terex has global operations, employees from different regions have their own cultural norms, expectations, ways they learn, ways they want to be recognized, and it’s the job of the ambassador to manage across those regions and cultures.


“They need to know them, understand them, respect them, but remain steadfast in their obligations to the organization,” said Babson-Smith. “It’s ethical leadership. Ethical leadership will drive that engagement, that loyalty. It is a differentiator, and I can’t be more passionate about it.”


Paulette Brown, former president of the American Bar Association, and now senior partner and senior diversity and inclusion officer at law firm Locke Lord, said what she does in diversity and inclusion has a lot to do with ethics. 


“When you’re talking about inclusion, it merges with how you hire, how you promote, how you perform evaluations,” she said. 


Building trust sometimes means going to places where it may not be comfortable, and having hard conversations.


When she was leading the ABA, Brown instituted a three-year term limit on committee assignments, and filled open positions with as many qualified women and minority candidates as she could find. But once you get that seat, you need to use it, use your voice. 


“You can’t have a seat at the table, and then not speak. … When people put you in a place of trust, you have to deliver,” she said. “When you mean what you say, and you do what you say, you will have a better work environment.”


                                                                                                            BEN DIPIETRO




Watching anti-harassment videos often is compulsory, so they need to be especially compelling, informative, and respectful of employees’ sensitivities and time.





Join LRN's Susan Divers and Paul Hastings' Jonathan Drimmers for a SCCE webcast discussing best practices to maximize the effectiveness of an ethics and compliance program.






LRN's new report, "From Rules to Values: Effective Codes of Conduct," found 70% of codes include details on hotline reporting, 35% discuss confidential reporting, and 19% discuss anonymous reporting.




Nearly two-thirds of workers in one survey say they would trust a robot boss more than a human one, World Economic Forum reports.


A survey of board members and senior executives ranked employee activism the third-highest risk, behind cyber and economic slowdown, Sky News reports.


A look back at 14 years of stock returns found companies' share prices went down in the first two years after they appointed a woman director, Bloomberg reports.


New research shows ethics can be taught, Phys Org reports.


One official in India, tired of being asked to take bribes, put up a sign.


MasterCard says it will begin issuing cards for transgender and nonbinary people.


Journalists are exhibiting their own form of employee activism by sharing their salary information with each other in an effort to level the playing field, Atlantic reports.


MIT Sloan Management Review has a story on the benefits of approaching managerial decisions through the lens of culture.


An analysis by Brookings looks at the jobs most likely to be impacted by artificial intelligence, and the news is not good for some white-collar workers.


Ethisphere Institute issued a report on how businesses in India are implementing the Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act. Ethisphere also released a report on ethical culture.


Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen speaks about the need to fight hate.



"I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.”

- Henry David Thoreau, author



A shout-out to Philippa Foster Back, who announced she would be stepping down as head of the Institute of Business Ethics in April 2020, after serving as director since August 2001. Join me in thanking Back for her decades of work to help companies behave more ethically, and in wishing her luck in her future endeavors.



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