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Public Trust Is Under Siege

Capitalism does more harm than good. That’s what 56% of global respondents to a recent Edelman (the largest global PR firm) trust survey say, and 47% of U.S. respondents feel the same.

Trust in all institutions is at a historic low. No institution—not government, business, media, or non-governmental organizations—is seen as both competent and ethical.

The major reasons cited for this continued trust decline in our institutions are increasing wage disparity, automation displacing workers, the gig economy and the belief that institutions are corrupt.

“Fears have eclipsed hope,” says Edelman CEO Richard Edelman. Fewer than 20% polled said “the system” was working for them personally.

Now, for a big dose of good news. If you work for a nonprofit, association, trade group or professional society, you can individually improve the level of trust your members have in your organization.

How? Here are 3 places to get started:

1. Most likely your organization provides training and professional development. This is a key opportunity to up your game. Does the training you provide meet the needs of a rapidly changing work force? Who in your organization has their finger on the pulse of the real drivers of industry change? Task forces and committees can only get you so far. Are you as good as your members need you to be when it comes to best-in-class professional development? Your organization can be a leader in helping prepare your workforce for the changes that technology and globalization are having on their jobs.

2. Evaluate all of your policies, communications and market-facing messages through the lens of transparency and trust. Many organizations are hiring Chief Trust Officers to ensure that all decisions reflect the growing concerns of a skeptical and increasingly more distrusting population. Who is in charge of ensuring trust at your organization and how is it measured? If it’s not being measured, it’s not being managed.

3. The best way to build trust with your members during these times is face-to-face interaction. How do you ensure a welcoming, open, fair, safe and trusting environment at your live meetings? The best way to build trust at a meeting is to design it for the audience—not the conference center, your budget, or how you’ve done it before. By removing every possible obstacle and taking a human-centric approach to seating, food selection, traffic flow and creating an inviting energy, you’ll build confidence, disarm your audience and build trust by showing them how much you care for them.

Chances are you work for a trustworthy organization and your members see you as a trusted brand. However, with ever more scrutiny by a skeptical public, everything matters when it comes to how trusted your organization is.

Trust is earned and lost by the little and big decisions we make. Here’s to the little things each of us can do every day to weave a stronger fabric of trust in our organizations and, ultimately, our society.

Want to spitball a few ideas and see how we may be able to help?

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