Trust and the compliance officer’s remit

Trust has always played a vital role in developing and maintaining civilizations and other organized groups  – large and small  – of humans.  But it seems like trust in business is as important now as it has been before.

As described in the Harvard corporate governance blog by PwC’s Paul DeNicola: “Confidence in the institutions that form the bedrock of society is perilously low. Surveys show that many people have lost faith in government, the media, and the police, among other institutions. Meanwhile, corporations have emerged as leaders. They’re now the most trusted institution in the US according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. Maintaining this trust, and seizing the opportunities it presents, should be a priority for every company.”

Another important development in this area is the recent publication of “Why Trust Matters: An Economist’s Guide to the Ties That Bind Us” by Benjamin Ho of Vassar College .   In this very useful and enjoyable book he examines the economics and history of trust in a wide variety of settings  Further, he focuses on various aspects of trusting institutions that are known for expertise (a subject of particular relevance to the present) and how we can do more to trust one another  generally.

DeNicola suggests ways companies can indeed make trustworthiness a priority, focusing on corporate culture, human capital and social action.  To this I would add – to the extent it has not already been done – expanding the remit of the chief ethics and compliance officer (“CECO”) promoting trustworthiness at the organization.

Companies should consider including trust issues in the CECO’s job description, risk assessment, training/communications, personnel evaluations and board reporting.  These and other commonsense  measures can help strengthen a company’s trustworthiness.

 

 

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