The chairman of the Treasury Committee, Andrew Tyrie, recently told the BBC that he thinks regaining public trust and confidence in banks is still years away.
Commercial scandals surrounding some of the world’s major companies and institutions have destabilised public perceptions of their trustworthiness, and for the banking sector Mr Tyrie spoke of a culture change that still has a long way to go.
It’s amidst this climate of fragile corporate confidence that our School of Management is launching new research this week which pinpoints what exemplary leaders of organisations do differently, and how they maintain their integrity despite difficult times.
On Thursday 11 September, 13 of the leading employers that participated in the research, including John Lewis, BBC World and Unilever, will give their perspectives at a conference at the University.
Keynote speaker Professor Veronica Hope Hailey, Dean of the School of Management, carried out the research in conjunction with the Chartered Institute for Personnel & Development (CIPD).
Commenting ahead of the conference, she said: "Andrew Tyrie's comments show that we are six years on from the financial crisis and yet many people still feel unsure about institutions and individuals who previously were revered as beacons of reliability and certainty.
“However, our research shows that reverse scenarios exist in pockets of good practice throughout this country. It shows that throughout the aftermath of the crisis there were individual leaders and organisations who kept and cultivated the trust of their customers and employees despite all those around them losing ground.
“Organisations like the John Lewis Partnership, Unilever, BAE, BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, GKN and some senior civil servants and leaders in the NHS demonstrated this ability. Their high levels of integrity delivered tangible business benefits to their organisations but their motivations for the display of that integrity lay beyond the bottom line.
“These senior leaders had a natural sense of concern for others, whether those ‘others’ were employees inside the organisation or people outside in the market place or community. That somewhat old fashioned benevolence galvanised them to demonstrate their people centredness on an everyday basis through their behaviours towards others.
“Noticeably they did not rely on twitter accounts alone to communicate, nor did they frequently escape to the comfort and other worldliness of a business class aircraft cabin but instead sought to visibly dialogue with customers and employees at every possible opportunity.
“These beacons of trust were not super heroes but instead intensely human leaders, showing and sharing their own weakness and vulnerability to others on many occasions. Paradoxically that demonstration of openness and vulnerability made others trust them more.”
Experiencing Trustworthy Leaders will be the third and final report in a series published by the CIPD in collaboration with the University. It is jointly funded by the CIPD and the University of Bath Higher Education Impact Fund.
For media wishing to set up interviews with Professor Veronica Hope Hailey on corporate trust, and the Experiencing Trustworthy Leaders research, please contact Alison Jones in the University's Press Office via +44-1225-386-986.
Watch Veronica interviewed on trust: