It is often said that without trust, there is nothing. Nowhere is this more true than in the world of business- internally, trust is the value that drives an ethical organizational culture. Externally, it is the factor most cited by consumers to drive purchases. Companies today must, for their own sake, emphasize trust as a principle that drives all decisions. This means moving beyond short-term thinking to a perspective focused on long-term, sustainable growth where employees trust leaders to make informed decisions and model behavior that advance the organization. Businesses can increase their trustworthiness and burnish their reputation by "walking the talk" and providing employees with opportunities to voice concerns while encouraging collaboration and disclosure. 

From an Ethical Systems perspective, trust is an earned commodity built over time. There is ample evidence that points to how trust boosts the bottom line, employee productivity and other key factors as well as myriad case studies of the negative effects of compromised trust and reputation. Explore more below:​







Ideas to Apply

"The toughest thing about the power of trust is that it's very difficult to build and very easy to destroy."
-Thomas Watson, founder of IBM

    1. How do you create organizations or cultures centered on trust? How can leadership enhance or erode trust?
    2. How do people establish trust? How do biases, perceptions and habits interact with organizational efforts to create a trusting culture?
    3. What is the business case for trust?


    Research and Resources

    Research Entry Points

    The Business Case for Trust

    Chapter from Trust, Inc. outlining how trustworthiness should be viewed as a business decision. Includes research supporting trust as a valued contributing factor for long-term growth. See also this supporting document on the return methodology for trust.

    Human Capital As a Lead Indicator of Shareholder Value

    A 2002 study by Watson Wyatt surveying 12,750 workers across all industries showed that high-trust organizations had a total return to shareholders (stock price plus dividends) that was 286 percent higher than low-trust organizations

    2015 Edelman Trust Barometer

    A report on trust around the world, trust across industries and how to build trust

    How Does Trust Affect the Bottom Line?

    Fortune magazine's independent analysis of the stock market performance of the U.S. 100 Best Workplaces 1998-2010

    The Impact of Corporate Sustainability on Organizational Processes and Performance

    Robert G. Eccles, Ioannis Ioannou, and George Serafeim provide evidence that High Sustainability companies (those integrating both social and environmental issues) significantly outperform their counterparts over the long-term, both in terms of stock market as well as accounting performance


    Organizations Promoting Trust in Business


    Journal Articles

    • Mayer, J., Davis, H., Schoorman, D. (1995). An Integrative Model of Organizational Trust, The Academy of Management Review. 20 (3). pp. 709-734.

    • Oshri, I., Kotlarsky, J. (2009). Realising the Real Benefits of Outsourcing, Warwick Business School. [outsourcing contracts managed on trust, rather than on stringent service level agreements, lead to benefits for both parties- as much as an additional 40 percent of the total value of a contract.]

    • More available on our literature review (to come)

    Newspapers and Magazines


    video 2 here









    Case Studies

    A 2012 study estimated that the average company lost 5 percent of its annual revenue to some sort of fraudulent activity...a total of $3.5 trillion in losses worldwide.

    Downloadable Toolkits

    • To come

    Further Learning

    image here
    Learn why Ethics Pays LINK TO COME Read our research on
    Cheating and Dishonesty