Posted by: Nancy | June 4, 2009

“Trust is the new black”

I came across that quote from Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, in The New York Observer’s coverage of the “I Want Media” event.

Isn’t it brilliant? So simple.

The context of his comment was advice to journalists — to understand the value of fact checking and honesty.  He’s right, of course, but it’s bigger than media.

The thing is, trust has always been the center of everything.

Having coffee with a friend today, we were reminiscing about old days in journalism (think back to the 1980s and ’90s). We came around to chatting about what’s changed in journalism, then to what really makes business work and we landed on … trust.

You can’t have a partnership without it. You can’t be successful selling without it. You can’t be a good leader without it. People won’t work with you for long if there’s no trust. You won’t do business with someone you don’t trust.

We shared stories of bosses who were willing to talk with everyone, as well as those who were too important, too busy to keep an open door.  We remembered Mr. K, who asked his associates to treat each other they way you want to be treated. We talked about the emotions associated with trust — those human feelings that really do make a difference in business.

So Mr. Newmark is right to advocate for building trust.

We’ve seen too many examples of broken trust: call centers where employees are rewarded based on number of calls answered instead of actually helping the customer; products that just don’t work like they are supposed to; business leaders that succumb to greed at the expense of employees, customers and stakeholders.

Need specifics? Check McKinsey & Co. on corporate trust:

In a March 2009 McKinsey Quarterly survey of senior executives around the world, 85 and 72 percent of them, respectively, said that public trust in business and commitment to free markets had deteriorated.1 According to the 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer, those executives are reading the public mind correctly: 62 percent of respondents, across 20 countries, say that they “trust corporations less now than they did a year ago.”

It’s time for trust to take center stage again.

To get it you have to give it. And once you are trusted, you’ll be the richer for it (in whatever currency you choose to count).

And, like black, it is never out of fashion.

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