Your personal and business ethics have significant impacts on your company’s longevity. You cannot last long in this world without trust. It creates friendships, keeps partners by your side and grows your businesses.
Trust inspires loyalty, and it extends to businesses as well as people. Venerable brands such as Coca-Cola and Nike understand their committed fans would disappear quickly if they believed that trust was being abused. No marriage and no company can survive if the people who depend on them always are worried that the other party won’t deliver on promises.
According to my marketing-guru friend, trust is the foundation of all relationships. “You trust the maker of the candy bar not to poison you, which means you trust their trust in agricultural and chemical suppliers,” he says. “You trust the store to not sell you past-dated products, and you trust the cashier to make correct change. There is a lot of trust in snack food.”
Your business survives only by keeping trust. It determines whether your company will last for five years or endure for five decades. In recent business scandals — Uber among the most newsworthy — we see the interplay between ethics and trust. Fortunes have been and are being lost when companies lose the trust of customers, stockholders, investors and regulators.
The breakdown of corporate trust begins with the abandonment of corporate ethics. Ethics are defined by corporate leaders and maintained by corporate culture, which also is defined by corporate leaders. The two halves of the equation — defining and maintaining — are essential. Both are the responsibility of top management.