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Barbara Brooks Kimmel: Trust busting crises engulf Wells Fargo, VW, Barclays . . .

Trust Across America’s focus has always been on finding and highlighting the “best in breed” corporate citizens while leaving the worst for the scrutiny of others. But today is only Wednesday and my inbox is swamped with so many trust busting stories that my head is spinning.

Here we go:

Wells Fargo is clawing back compensation to rebuild trust, or are they?

Volkswagen has found the “secret” to rebuilding trust…. are they kidding?

Barclays’ CEO has his own strategy for trust, but it’s certainly not the “building” kind. This is the same CEO who not so long ago said “I do believe that trust is returning to our institution. But we will never rest, we are never done. We have to focus on building that trust every day.”

A  bunch of “fake activist” companies, outraged over the purported trust violations of Bill O’Reilly, pull their advertising, or do they? Thanks Jim!

And let’s not forget United, except this isn’t about customer brutality, and maybe not even about trust! It’s just ironic.

This week, instead of watching sitcoms, I’ve taken to reading the news. As an organizational trust researcher and communicator, I’m finding it not only highly educational but also wildly entertaining.

As I’ve said for many years, the ongoing trust crisis will certainly not abate until untrustworthy leaders sail off into the sunset or recognize the error of their ways and start advocating for change.


Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance and is the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and a Managing Member at FACTS® Asset Management, a New Jersey registered investment advisor. In 2012 she was named one of “25 Women who are Changing the World” by Good Business International.

A version of this post first appeared on Trust Across America and is republished here by permission.

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  1. Working among various cultures including that of corporations, individuals, in four continents, nine countries, with my constant continuous education, knowledge and experience, I have concluded:

    “Trust is substantially a frame of mind, a psychological state. It is not just the outcome of any proven rational calculation. Nor it is based upon a transparent viable information with supporting evidence. If it is, it has its time limits. It’s a mindset, a vital and important component of “animal, tribal and affinity spirits, behaviors propelled by self- motivated exuberance and/or instincts” that drives us into an action or leaves us with inaction.”

    Typically, I am one of the many, struggling to understand where and what is the shape of the current US administration in relation to TRUST.

  2. It seems to me that with regards to trust, the choices are pretty simple. You can "Trust everyone" or "Trust no one" or You can "Trust but verify". Given the examples where trust has been betrayed, trusting everyone seems more than a little naive. Trusting no one is simple, but how can business or anything function without some level of trust? That leaves us with Trust but verify, but verification requires work and who would choose hard work over simply crying out with moral indignation "We trusted them, and they betrayed us" It seems to me that "trust but verify" is the way to go, or in other words, exercising "Professional Skepticism". This is actually required in some disciplines yet somehow gets sidelined when people in authority say "those are good people we trust them" .

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