Trust is a holy-grail imperative for brands and businesses today, with consumers and other stakeholders becoming more skeptical at every turn. But this elusive metric poses a host of challenges for leaders—how exactly does a business entity earn trust, what indicators inform its progress, and how do you know when you’ve succeeded?
New research from trust intelligence platform OneTrust finds widespread agreement on the strategic value of trust—a majority of organizations recognize trust as mission-critical and plan to develop dedicated trust programs—and identifies common challenges organizations are looking to address as they establish these programs and processes around trust.
The firm’s first trust intelligence report, The State of Trust: OneTrust’s Benchmark Survey on Leadership Perspectives, based on its survey of more than 2,500 senior business leaders across the US and EMEA, provides a multi-faceted view into attitudes and adoption of organizational trust programs.
Leaders are prioritizing trust
Nine in 10 (91 percent) respondents say organizational trust is important to them, and 70 percent say trust is a key business objective for their company.
The impacts of trust are well understood
More than two-thirds (69 percent) say trust is a key enabler of growth and innovation, and 90 percent have a budget for specific trust-building initiatives.
Yet, there are challenges to address
About three-quarters (77 percent) of respondents say getting their board to see eye-to-eye with them on the issue of trust is challenging, and 69 percent agree there are several stakeholders involved in driving trust in their organization.
For most, trust is on the horizon
Fully three-quarters (76 percent) of organizations expect to have a formal process for managing and resolving trust issues anywhere from six months out to within two years.
According to the research, chief information security officers (CISOs) in particular held stronger views toward the importance of trust and the associated challenges. This comes amid relentless cyber threats and in the wake of new securities laws that could hold CISOs liable for data breaches as they face an increased likelihood of legal scrutiny.
- 74 percent of CISOs agree that it’s difficult to innovate and grow without trust, compared to 69 percent overall.
- 80 percent of CISOs feel it is challenging to manage all the expectations in their role to uphold trust, compared to 64 percent overall.
“Societal, digital, and economic shifts have recalibrated what good looks like in business,” said Kabir Barday, founder and CEO of OneTrust, in a news release. “Today, stakeholders want to know how a company is driving profits and innovation, but demonstrating compliance across privacy, security, ethics, and ESG is no longer enough. Companies must show stakeholders that they can be trusted by conducting their business with ethics and integrity. Trust has quickly evolved from a competitive advantage to a critical enabler of innovation, especially to accelerate the impact of transformative technologies like AI.”
“While companies widely agree on the advantages of building trust, formal trust programs are still in the nascent stages, if established at all beyond a concept or conversation,” said Catherine A. Tomasi, director and chief privacy officer at Con Edison, in the release. “Trust isn’t one size fits all and requires an organizational transformation, more than just deploying new tools and technologies. Some of the most important and foundational steps—determining how to measure trust, getting buy-in, securing budget, or identifying owners across the organization—still remain the most challenging because they are unique to each business.”
Data is from a survey of 2500 executives including Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Information Security Officers, Chief Privacy Officers, and Chief Trust Officers across the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Spain. The survey was conducted between August through September 2023.