Respondents say they plan to intensify efforts to maintain and build stakeholder trust. The key, according to Sucher, is that companies should keep fighting for it, even (or especially) when adversity strikes. Some leaders believe that “once lost, trust can never be regained,” she notes. But, in fact, “many companies are so well capitalized that they're unlikely to go down as a result of a trust breach. There are also companies that have done an excellent job overcoming lost trust.”
Talking about trust: Five topic areas for board discussion
As directors seek to nurture and build trust among their stakeholders, here are some topic areas they can use to foster productive conversations:
- Defining trust. What is our working definition of trust as it relates to the organization and our relationships with stakeholders?
- Delineating the board’s role in trust management. What are the board’s responsibilities for earning trust with stakeholders and how do these differ from or align with management responsibilities?
- Measuring trust. What metrics is our organization using to measure stakeholder trust? What could we do to improve the quality and accuracy of these metrics?
- Evaluating current priorities and anticipating shifts. What are our current trust-building priorities and how will these evolve over the next few years?
- Evaluating the impact of ESG strategy and progress on trust. To what extent does our commitment to sustainability and broader ESG factors support and reflect our broader commitment to building and maintaining stakeholder trust?
The Deloitte Global Boardroom Program surveyed 177 board members and C-suite executives in more than 30 countries in October 2022. Among the 89% of respondents who serve as board members, 39% serve as audit committee chairs or members and 19% serve as board chairs. Note that some respondents may serve multiple organizations, as both executives and board members.
Responses are distributed across the Americas, Asia-Pacific (APAC), and Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) (31%, 31%, and 38% respectively). More than half of respondents (58%) serve at publicly listed companies, while 34% serve at privately owned companies, including family businesses.
Industries represented include financial services (28%), manufacturing (12%), energy and resources (11%), retail and wholesale (10%), business and professional services (8%), technology (7%), health care and pharmaceuticals (5%), and telecommunications, media, and entertainment (3%).
Company size: 24% of respondents represent organizations with equity market values of US$10 billion or more, followed by those with values between US$1 billion and US$10 billion (32%) and those with values less than US$1 billion (44%).