Trust survey: Maintaining the social licence to operate

Trust survey: Maintaining the social licence to operate

KPMG and the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) share survey findings of 600 directors about the state of trust in 2018.

Richard Boele

Global Leader, Business & Human Rights Services | Chief Purpose Officer

KPMG Australia


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A compass pointing to the word trust

As the ‘crisis of trust’ in institutions continues to dominate global and national headlines, encouraging conversations are being held in Australian boardrooms where trust remains front of mind.

In a survey together with the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), completed by almost 600 company directors, directors overwhelmingly agree that trust is important to their organisations sustainability.

Boards are increasingly looking to better understand, and respond to, the issues that are affecting their organisation’s trustworthiness.

Specifically, the survey found that:

  • Almost half of directors reported that their board had to deal with issues that can affect trust in their organisation over the past year.
  • Boards see 'clients or customers' and 'employees' as the two most critical stakeholders to maintain trust in an organisation.
  • Less than half of company directors who responded felt that their board has a proactive approach to building trust with the organisation's most important stakeholders.
  • Although company directors feel a greater sense of responsibility to the wider communities they serve, 'internal culture and practices' was voted by directors as the most critical issue relating to trust.
  • The factors contributing to trust are more dynamic and interrelated than ever before. There are simply too many issues to address them all with the same level of focus; boards must prioritise and focus on those that are most likely to impact their organisation and its stakeholders. The results, however, suggest a mixed picture in the extent to which organisations have formal processes for escalating trust issues to the board level.

KPMG Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live and gather as employees, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

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