The 3 Basic Steps To Create Trust Through Corporate Social Responsibility

The 3 Basic Steps To Create Trust Through Corporate Social Responsibility

Trust: Why Business Lost It, And How To Win It Back (Part 3 of 3)

If business wants to regain the public’s trust, they’re going to have to be trustworthy, and employees are the key. Here are three basic steps to engage your employees, build social capital, and win stakeholder trust.

There's a lot here, so take your time with it, read it in pieces, and as always, share your thoughts and insights.

Trust: "Can I get a loan?"

Many companies are turning to Corporate Social Responsibility as a strategy to win back the trust of their stakeholders and customers. But there is an irony here. For this strategy to work, it requires the very ingredient it seeks to generate - trust. Let’s consider exactly what a company is proclaiming when they use the phrase “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR).

CSR is a form of corporate self-regulation. Businesses promise to obey the law and maintain ethical standards in their activities. They are promising to promote the common good of the communities in which they operate, and proactively curtail any and all functions that may cause harm, whether specifically illegal or not. The popular maxim of People, Planet and Profit is the triple bottom line. Essentially, the company is taking responsibility for their actions and how they impact: a) the environment, b) consumers, c) employees, d) communities, e) various stakeholders, and f) the entire public sphere. It is a pretty significant commitment.

So, why in the world would I trust you with any of this ‘self-imposed’ regulation and prioritization if I don’t trust you in the first place? You cannot prove you are trustworthy by asking people to trust you even more.

If business wants to regain the public’s trust, they’re going to have to be trustworthy. But since they don’t possess enough trust capital in the first place, they’ll have to borrow it from somewhere. It would have been impossible for the financial institutions on Wall Street to generate the capital they needed to operate without an infusion of cash from the government. Similarly, corporations need a line of ‘trust’ credit in order to generate ‘intrinsic trust’.

In Part 2 of this series, Make your CSR believable? How? Create and Leverage Social Capital we made the connection between CSR, Social Capital and trust. Trust is the currency of social capital, and the bond that creates integrity/believability for CSR. But still, the conundrum remains - where to find the trust that CSR needs to increase trustworthiness?

We hinted that the answer to this problem lies with the employees.

Let’s discover how...

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