Across America, studies have shown that businesses are some of the most trusted organizations in people’s daily lives. This trust has been carefully crafted by C-suite leaders based on the commitments and actions taken during global crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. More than ever, businesses today are beginning to advocate for social justice and protect marginalized communities. Diversity and inclusion conversations are occurring more frequently within the office workplace.
Unfortunately, this idyllic picture is only one small piece of the corporate puzzle. More work has to be done to continue to build trust with customers and employees as business owners. There is a new pressure placed on those who are managing others to consider the betterment of all – not just the betterment of a corporation’s bottom line.
With that being said – how can CEOs and business owners build trust?
Advocate for Ethical Business Practices
This one is a big deal on the list as Gen Z continues to grow its wealth and enter the workforce. Believe it or not – having ethical business practices can be a major piece in attracting the right talent within the next decade.
Ethical business practices encompass a range of issues including diversity and inclusion, pay equity, climate change consideration, vetting ethical and sustainable suppliers and contractors, and investing in ethical retirement funds on behalf of your employees. Those who fail to address this realm will be out of luck when trying to build long-term trust with employees and customers.
Hit Hyper Speed on Data Protection and Cybersecurity
Many are arguing that the wild west days of data collection and unsafe data storage are ending. With consistent global threats on the horizon, potential internal bad actors, and a media-savvy consumer audience, it’s time to step up your data protection game. Those who suffer dangerous privacy breaches lose all trust and credibility with both customers and employees. Data protection and cybersecurity have to be a priority for all business owners and CEOs regardless of organization size or scope. Legislation may force the hand of many companies regarding digital data collection, privacy, and use.
Treat Employees more than Fairly
There is no question that over the last 2 years (and longer) employees have stepped up time and time again in North America to bolster the economy. Without employees, all organizations would simply fail to operate. There would be no products or services for customers to consume. The importance of talented, loyal, and hardworking employees cannot be overstated by business owners. Treating employees fairly, equitably, and compensating them adequately according to the profit margins of your organization is necessary. Thinking solely about investors and their best interests is a great way to land your company in hot water with employees and customers. Often, customers reward a company if they feel it is fair and just to its employees!
Made a Mistake? Don’t lie
Just like we learned in childhood, mistakes happen. Unfortunately, if you’re facing a challenging situation regarding a mistake, it’s best to be transparent and honest with your employees and customers. Those who spend more time “covering up” an issue with clever public relations strategies can lose trust internally and externally. Work swiftly to resolve a mistake and then admit that it happened. When necessary, apologize without placing blame on anyone except for the company. It’s hard as CEOs to look beyond our pride – but this is a major key to avoiding a drawn-out and publicized crisis.