Businesses know that public trust in their industry is vital and must be nurtured or their investments could be at risk. Strengthening the good reputation of an industry and its products/services involves a sustained, collective effort and industry service organisations (ISOs) play a pivotal role in this area.
Success here benefits all businesses, but like insurance, you value it most when things go wrong.
More attention is now being placed on objectively establishing the levels of public trust and understanding how and why they are changing. For example, you can read global research like the annual Edelman Trust Barometer and assorted local variants to see how people are changing their world view towards institutions like political parties, business, non-government organisations (NGOs) and the media.
It’s all very interesting – not the least of which is the fact that the general populace trusts business a lot more than they trust governments and the media!
There is also an internal aspect to industry trust. When business leaders act to modernise their industry structures, a major barrier can be distrust between industry businesses (e.g. small and large) or sectors (e.g. production and processing).
Regardless of whether it has any current basis, distrust escalates the risk of much-needed industry reforms being delayed, de-railed or diluted, with businesses forced to settle for the most politically acceptable reform option, rather than the most commercially valuable model.
An inclusive, transparent reform process will help mitigate the risks associated with simmering distrust between industry businesses. The alternative is to limit information sharing and input to a select few, which inevitably breeds more division in the industry.
An opportunity is for industries to apply the same discipline and sustained effort towards establishing and influencing the levels of trust within the industry community as they do with the general community. It’s not as if the two are disconnected.
Develop trust internally and externally. A world class ISO is able to perform because businesses trust that it is acting in the best interests of the majority of industry businesses.