Two recent reports –Edelman’s “trustbarometer” and Forbes/Audit Integrity’s list of the top 100 “Most Trustworthy Companies” bring to the forefront what is at the core of corporate responsibility and sustainability–trust. As defined by Merriam-Webster, “trust is the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something, one in which confidence is placed.”

The Edelman Report concludes that the road companies must take to rebuild trust lies in public engagement.  The Forbes/Audit Integrity list points to transparent and conservative accounting practices, stable management and minimal inside training as the primary measures which they believe make a company “trustworthy.”  Clearly, both are necessary for companies to survive, let alone thrive going forward.

The framework to engage stakeholders, increase transparency and gain the public’s trust exists within the Global Reporting Initiative.  The Global Reporting Initiative provides guidance for companies to disclose their social, environmental and economic performance and can be adapted for any industry, geography or size of organization.  The framework facilitates transparency and accountability by organizations while providing a globally-applicable, comparable framework. 

Companies across the globe have a great opportunity to achieve higher levels of trust by committing to a consistent and transparent process for engaging stakeholders and disclosing relevant and understandable information.  Adopting the Global Reporting Initiative framework would be a giant first step for companies to get there.