A task force organized by the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics and the Arthur W. Page Society set out to investigate the current landscape of public trust in business. Our goal is to provide business leaders with knowledge on which they can base decisions and actions. This report represents the initial step in a larger effort to identify opportunities for business leaders to build and sustain public trust in their companies, in their sectors, and in the institution of business.
The task force believes a new kind of dialogue is needed on this issue, as trust becomes increasingly crucial to business and society in the twenty-first century. The current global economic crisis, in which a lack of trust has weakened the world financial system, demonstrates the importance of this dialogue. this report proposes a basis on which it can begin.
Public trust in business has certain distinct characteristics and dynamics, related to but different from those of other forms of trust—interpersonal, inter-firm and cross-societal. “Public trust in business” roughly describes the level and type of vulnerability the public is willing to assume with regard to business relations. Today, a large portion of the public believes that the majority of its vulnerability in business relationships is not voluntary but rather results from a sizable power imbalance that enables executives and companies to assume far less risk than the average person. This sense has been exacerbated by the current financial crisis, in which american taxpayers have been called upon to shore up financial institutions whose risky behavior put the financial system at risk… Read More