October 18, 2011

Values Matter: Emerging Business Policies and Practices for Building Trust and Goodwill

Corporate Values Take Center Stage at Top Companies
New Report Chronicles Business Activities to Build Trust

The U.S. Chamber's Business Civic Leadership Center released a report titled "Values Matter" at a forum at the U.S. Chamber headquarters in January 2007. The report examines the subject of increasing trust in the business sector and chronicles the trust-building activities of several of today's best-known companies.

Report findings presented at the forum include:

  • Issues related to trust and values cost businesses more than $50 billion in 2005, as manifested by litigation, human resource turnover, theft, fraud, vandalism, transaction costs and lost productivity.

  • Trust is not just a business issue; it affects many American institutions and there are benefits for organizations in different sectors to work together and form relationships and partnerships to rebuild trust because it is in their common interest.

  • There is a profound divergence of opinions between the public and the business community about business values and trust — 94% of business leaders surveyed by BCLC believe that ethical practices are critical or very important for their company, while public opinion polls continue to portray skepticism.

  • Currently, most companies think about trust in terms of identifying ways to reduce risk and strengthen compliance; however, some companies are developing corporate ethical practices and stakeholder relationship management practices to pro-actively build trust with customers, employees, investors, and other important constituencies.

  • Benefits of trust and corporate values programs cited by business leaders include increased productivity, community acceptance, consumer preference, and reduced transaction costs.

"Trust is often cited as the number one issue affecting business and society relations," said Stephen Jordan, BCLC vice president and executive director. "But our research indicates this was not caused by the corporate scandals; it's an issue that goes back to the late 1960s and affects a lot of other institutions besides business.

"We're seeing signs that companies are starting to think that trust is not just a compliance or a regulatory issue, continued Jordan. "We're pleased to call attention to some of the pioneers who are embracing alternative strategies for building better business and society relations."

Companies featured in the report include Chiquita Brands International, Google, Johnson & Johnson, KPMG, Southwest Airlines, and Xerox, among others.