Monthly Archives: January 2014

Q & A with Barbara Kimmel, Founder of Trust Across America

Wyngspan is built on the idea that Trust trumps all when it comes to finding professionals to get the job done right. We also believe that the best way for businesses to succeed is to showcase their trustworthiness. When we started building our Trust Network, we found that there were a few other groups that shared our values but none more obviously than Barbara Kimmel’s. She is the founder of Trust Across America, a global program, addressing the issues of organizational trust around the world.

We have had the opportunity to get to know Barbara better over the past year and were thrilled when she agreed to be interviewed for Wynging It. Here’s what she had to say.

1. When did you first realize that “trust” is such a critical element of success, for both individual companies and economies?

We started exploring the subject in the midst of the financial crisis, in 2008. We built a quantitative model to track the trustworthiness of public companies. We now have 4 years of data that continues to point in the direction that trustworthy companies can “do good and do well” or do good without sacrificing profitability. In fact, trustworthy companies are more profitable. We explain why on our blog.

2. Every year Trust Across America conducts a review to identify The Most Trustworthy Public Companies in America, judged on five primary drivers of trustworthiness. Can you tell us a bit about those drivers and why they are all so important?

Our model is called FACTS®. It’s an acronym that encompasses 5 quantitative indicators of trust: Financial stability, Accounting conservativeness, Corporate integrity (governance), Transparency and Sustainability (both environmental and business). We weight the five equally. Our research shows that a weak link in any driver puts a company at “risk”. Think of our model like a human body. If one of the organs is diseased and left untreated, the whole body will become diseased (unsustainable) over time.

3. In the age of social media, is it harder for companies and individuals to maintain a high level of trustworthiness? Why or why not?

Social media does not drive trustworthiness. Culture does. If there is a strong corporate culture, social media should not present a threat. It’s the culturally challenged companies that find themselves with the largest social media backlash, and that’s a good thing. Let them continue to be “called out” for bad behavior. Maybe that will shame them into becoming more trustworthy.

4. If you could give one piece of advice to a company struggling to create a culture of trust in their organization what would you say?

Remember the saying “the fish rots from the head.” If there is an untrustworthy culture it is the fault of the leader and, it is imperative that the leader take responsibility for fixing it. If he/she does not have the tools to do so, they should seek training/counsel from someone who does.

To learn more check out Barbara’s book Trust Inc.: Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset. You can also Follower her on Twitter or Like her organization on Facebook.