IE Spring 2018 News & Insights: Topic 2 – Trust and Responsible Business

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What it means to be a responsible business and the role of ethical leadership is a challenge for many organisations in today’s business environment.  Can businesses be purpose-led, values-driven, socially responsible AND still be commercial and profitable?  The need to explore the false dichotomy between profitable business performance and being a responsible business is an urgent one, given the increasing scrutiny of investors and government on positive social outcomes of business and the reporting on the lack of of trust between business and society.

Recent headlines have shone a light on the lack of trustworthiness of leaders and business.   Mark Zuckerberg refers to a ‘breach of trust’ here following the recent data breach crisis.  BBC China editor Carrie Gracie quit her post in equal pay row and says the BBC is facing a ‘crisis of trust’ here.

However, is the question we should really be asking ourselves is this:  is this about crisis of trust or a crisis of leadership? What more should we be doing to equip, engage and empower our leaders to be able to address the leadership challenges of our time?  There’s an excellent article you can read on ‘Six Paradoxes of Leadership’ by Blair Sheppard, Global Leader for Strategy & Leadership @PwC to inform your thinking on this.

It was fantastic to see the Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of the City of London launching the City of London Corporation’s initiative ‘The business of trust’ in November 2017, which seeks to improve the trustworthiness of the UK financial and professional services sector to create a lasting legacy of better business trusted by society.  Read more about the campaign here including an insight paper and an overview of the key initiatives being delivered.

Working with clients on trust and responsible business is really exciting and pushing the boundaries on the new and emerging role of being a responsible leader: leading and creating a culture of trustworthiness through the development of a distinctive and responsible leadership style built on purpose, values and commerciality.

Key projects include the co-creation, design and expert facilitation of a Future Leaders Development Series. This is aimed at strengthening the capability and the commitment of the Future Leaders to embed trustworthy practices into their organisations and empower them to act as change catalysts in their businesses to help align trustworthy business practice with strategy and outcomes.

What’s coming up? 

Designing and delivery of a leadership development module on “Trust and Trustworthiness as a Business Leader” for CFOs and there’s a project to co-develop a diagnostic tool as part of a Leadership Playbook on Trust and Responsible Business.

Read more about the work in this area in the update on Ethics and Compliance here.