Spokane Journal of Business

Journal’s View: Business has responsibility, opportunity to build trust


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At last month’s event recognizing Best Places to Work in the Inland Northwest, keynote speaker Jason Swain highlighted a recent revelation that business is now more trusted than government, non-governmental organizations, and media.

That brings about responsibility and opportunity for business to grow that trust.

First, it should be noted that business hasn’t suddenly risen in global favor—trust in the others, especially government, has sunk faster. According to 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer quoted by Swain, business had a trust index of 61, while government had an index score of 52, non-government entities had scored 59, and media scored 60.

The trust index for government had fallen the most since spring 2020, when it was the highest at 65, followed by business at 62.

The responsibility and opportunity for businesses now is to be honest with customers, employees, and investors and build a sense of community, says Swain, who is founder and president of Liberty Lake-based corporate consulting company Symbio. People want more business engagement, not less, on social issues.

People are hungry for organizations they can trust. When a company becomes that, it is going to retain talent and attract customers and investors.

On a local scale, it’s no coincidence that businesses and organizations that scored well as Best Places to Work INW also put a priority on growing the trust of employees and their customers. They often take leadership roles in the community and empower employees to contribute to the community programs and services through corporate and individual participation.

Those companies have developed core beliefs and values that shape the cultures that define them. And for many businesses, putting these core beliefs into action depends first on earning employee trust.

For example, RiverBank, a runner-up in the small company category, surveys employees throughout the year and its senior leadership team implements changes based on employee feedback. 

Janelle Carney, managing shareholder at the Spokane office of GLP Attorneys PS, winner in the medium company category, says the law practice recognizes that people often spend 40% of their awake hours at work, and the office strives to make work rewarding for its team through core values of commitment, collaboration, compassion, and creativity.

Carla Cicero, president and CEO of Numerica Credit Union, winner in the Best Places to Work INW large company category, says the organization creates culture by demonstrating that its purpose behind providing financial services is to “enhance lives, fulfill dreams, and build communities.” Numerica hires people who believe in that purpose and are inspired by it when they come to work every day, she says.

Swain says culture creates connections within companies and their communities that give employees, customers, and investors a sense of belonging.

“That’s when they feel lower levels of anxiety and depression, and people work harder to make it a success,” he claims.

More and more, customers and investors also are basing decisions and loyalty on who they trust, he says.

While media ranks low in the trust department, we have endeavored to earn your trust at the Journal. We hope we’ve succeeded. After all, in this time of divisiveness and distrust throughout society, we and other businesses have the opportunity and responsibility to promote culture and community in which employees, customers, and investors can place their trust.

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