Ethical Performance
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Trust takes years to build, just seconds to break

June 2013

TV game show-wise I’ve always been more Mastermind (general knowledge round of course) rather than University Challenge, so when ITV broke new ground with Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, I was hooked. Well, for a short time. How did this brilliant format fall from my grace? It hoodwinked me, that’ s how. I’d been watching gleefully unaware that the show wasn’t broadcast live. When the host said “we’ll find out after the break” whether the hapless contestant had won - or lost - a huge amount of money, I’d believed that they were waiting too… Then my sister who works in TV put me straight. It was all pre-recorded! Naïve perhaps? But what a disappointment. It was never the same watching it after that. The enjoyment of the suspense had gone forever.

I know it’s not quite the same as realising the burger you’ve been enjoying contains rather a lot of Dobbin but the sense of disillusion is the same. As human beings we innately understand the meaning of trust and once it’s gone, it is very difficult to get it back. So businesses need to be wary. Very wary.

According to a study by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility, trust is no longer in a company’s own hands. Indeed, social sources of trust like consumer reviews, blogs and message boards (28%) as well as friends, family and co-workers (27%) now rival traditional sources like certifications (40%) and media reports (31%) as consumers’ most trusted sources for determining whether a product is socially and environmentally responsible.

According to the study – Re:Thinking Consumption: Consumers and the Future of Sustainability – consumers in emerging markets (Brazil, China and India) are more than four times as likely as those in developed markets (UK, USA, Germany) to turn to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as a trusted source of information (22% to 5% respectively).

“Simply put, companies no longer own their brands. They are co-owned and co-created by consumers whose experiences, ideas and opinions are now shaping brand perceptions and trust,” says Raphael Bemporad, co-founder of brand innovation consultancy BBMG. “Companies that cultivate honest and collaborative relationships with consumers will be best positioned.”

Readership Survey - the results are in!
Thank you to all of you who completed our recent Readership Survey. Rest assured we’ll be taking note of all your suggestions for improving Ethical Performance. For the many who asked for more on SRI, you’ll see our new and improved Fundwatch section on pp18-19 with analysis from former FT mandate, Roger Aitken, together with a new investment column by respected SRI commentator Oliver Wagg.

Congratulations go to Dr Sean Axon from Johnson Matthey, who was the first name out of the hat for a free iPad mini.

PS Check out the new-look Ethical Performance website that’s now live! 

Liz Jones | Global | Trust

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