Trust: An Imperative for Benefit Corporations

Photo by  Everton Vila  

Photo by Everton Vila 

It’s a new world. Where social sharing has become a powerful force in our lives.

In this connected world, people depend more and more on recommendations and referrals from friends and their social network. Sharing is the mechanism for information, and subsequently trust evolves as an ‘uber’ quality.

·         Millennials clamor for authenticity and transparency, as it is the way to earn their trust

·         Many Baby Boomers seek honesty, burned out on corporate-speak

·         Individuals from diverse communities hope for respect and equity

Trust matters. Nowhere is that more evident than for Benefit Corporations whose promise of transparency and authenticity delivers customers and ultimately more profit. The leaders of Benefit Corporations earn the trust of both employees and customers each day. It is their point of differentiation and without it, they fall back into the ranks of more traditional businesses. Creating trust is a part of the DNA of Benefit Corporation leaders.

One of the most well-known authors on trust, Stephen Covey, lists 13 behaviors of high trust that we often see among leaders of Benefit Corporations. These include:  

1.       Straight Talk

2.       Respect for Others

3.       Transparent

4.       Admit mistakes

5.       Show loyalty

6.       Deliver what they promise

7.       Commit to self-improvement

8.       Confront reality

9.       Clarify expectations

10.      Practice accountability

11.       Listen first

12.      Keep commitments

13.      Trust others

The flip side is that typically leaders of less than successful businesses:

·         Deceive others – including beating around the bush

·         Hold hidden agendas or objectives

·         Deny or justify their own mistakes

·         Show lack of respect for others

·         Take all the credit when it was a shared effort

·         Ignore or evade conflict

·         Blame others

·         Dominate discussions without listening to others

Trust is like the Golden Rule.

It is one of those principles that is not always evident in many corporations.  But, it is refreshing to see Benefit Corporations embrace this concept.

Without it …we are back to manipulations of messaging and false promises.

Without it ...we cannot create teams and communities that collaborate for the greater good and profit.

Without it…there is no real engagement or connection between the company and the customer.

Without it... our businesses are endangered.

Yet, Benefit Corporations give us hope! They recognize and practice trust as a foundational pillar of leadership.  It is a part of their growth and success.

To get our new book, "Putting Soul Into Business: How the Benefit Corporation is Transforming American Business for Good," simply click here.