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Ten Commandments of Trust

Managing social capital as a critical Board asset.

  1. Explicitly define the company’s “license to operate.”
    • What are the legal and social foundations?
    • What are the enabling principles and obligations?
    • What infrastructure does the company depend upon?
  2. Co-define the norms for governance.
    • In dialogue with industry and association standards
    • Matching or leading global best practices
    • Involving a host of voices, including critics, employees, activists.
  3. Expect ethical accounting as a factor in every strategy or decision.
    • How have ethical impacts been assessed?
    • What are the ethical risks or weak-points?
    • What are the explicit accountabilities?
  4. Measure trust and ethical reputation as factors of performance, and as factors affecting compensation.
    • What are the internal and external perceptions pertaining to ethical performance?
    • How have these changed?
    • How do these compare with ethical leaders?
  5. Do not start with a code but realize this as the outcome defining acceptable minimums.
    • Create confidence to ask tough questions.
    • Create competency to explore creative alternatives.
    • Focus: Not “what to do” but “how to be.”
  6. Model the top-down commitment to structures for ethical intervention.
    • How does whistle-blowing work at the Board level?
    • How is accountability manifest?
  7. Measure the Board’s performance on ethics expertise and governance effectiveness.
    • How often discussed? How pervasive on agenda?
    • Self-evaluation / Third-party or benchmark evaluation
  8. Invite diverse voices to the Board to hear non-executive and non-managerial impressions about ethical competencies.
    • Face-to-face with real people
    • Bring those least-likely to be heard to the table
  9. Question imbalance or disproportion.
    • Early indicator of ethical dislocation
    • Trust visceral reactions
  10. Ask the “subversive question.”
    • Ask about human impacts
    • Ask for those who cannot
    • Ask from the perspective of the fiercest critic
    • Ask from the perspective of a moral hero

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