Building trust requires just the right level of transparency, says Telus chief trust officer

A glass and steel building towers against the blue sky. A sign reading "Telus" is mounted to the side of the building
Telus chief trust officer Pamela Snively says finding metrics to measure customer trust with is her biggest challenge this year.
Mert Alper Dervis—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

One thing that’s become clear in my conversations with chief trust officers this month is that while a lot of companies know they need to develop trust with stakeholders, and many are actively attempting to do so, few know how to measure whether their trust-building exercises are actually successful.

As Pamela Snively, chief data and trust officer of Canadian telecoms company Telus, puts it, “The business case for building trust is there. What’s challenging is measuring whether you’ve done it.” In fact, Snively, who has held her role at Telus since 2015, says that getting better metrics on measuring trust is her team’s challenge for the year ahead.

Certainly, the business case is there. According to PwC’s 2023 Trust Survey, 91% of executives say their ability to build and maintain trust improves the bottom line, largely due to increased referrals. Nearly 60% of consumers told PwC they have recommended a company they trust to friends and family, and 64% of employees say they recommended a company as a place to work because they trusted it. 

But for people in the business of building trust, tracking revenue or performance growth and attributing that climb to increased levels of good faith with stakeholders isn’t enough. Snively has some ideas on how to go further. 

“I think there are two aspects to trust. The first is to be trustworthy, which means figuring out what is the right thing to do,” Snively says. More often than not, Snively says, the “right thing” to do as a company means behaving in line with customer expectations, so figuring out what to do can be as simple as asking your customer base what they want.

Once you’re behaving in a trustworthy way, the second step, Snively says, is to actually be trusted.

“That requires a degree of transparency and even further customer engagements on what it is we’re doing. So we are quite focused on transparency and informing our customers on how our technology works, what we’re doing with their data, what we’re not doing with their data, as well as our framework for data ethics and how we make ethical decisions,” Snively says.

Yet being transparent isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s no secret that most people don’t read privacy agreements online before signing them, as providing a deluge of legalese often overwhelms customers. That’s why, Snively says, Telus has “layered” information on its website—if you want to just get the basics about Telus’s data usage, you can just get the basics, and if you want to dig deeper you can learn more about it online. 

“What we know is that it’s really important to have that information available so that when people are concerned they can go as deep as they’d like to go,” Snively says. 

Eamon Barrett


Blind equity
Sometimes, the less you know, the better. Such is the case when employers are hiring job candidates, argues Sunita Sah, director of Cornell University Academic Leadership Institute. In a Fortune op-ed Sah says when “employers proactively blind themselves to potentially biasing information about job candidates, they produce fairer and more accurate assessments.” But only 20% of corporations currently adopt “blinding” policies to reduce bias in decision-making.

TikTok watch
Mozilla—the not-for-profit organization behind the open-source Firefox browser—is asking TikTok users to share data on what videos the popular app recommends, in order to investigate how TikTok might be used to spread election misinformation. Mozilla previously conducted similar research on YouTube but says now, particularly when looking at the global south, TikTok is driving the way many people engage with the internet. 

Spreading green energy
The world needs to double the current rate of global energy efficiency progress and triple its total renewable power capacity in order to meet the International Energy Agency’s roadmap for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. That will require a major scaling-up of clean energy globally, but currently most investment is happening in a few large economies. To get it right, a new report by the IEA and International Finance Corporation shows annual clean energy investment in emerging and developing economies will need to more than triple to $2.8 trillion by the early 2030s.

Spotting quitters
There are many potential uses of A.I. in the workplace and professional services firm Genpact has found a novel one: using A.I. chatbots to gauge employee satisfaction. Since 2018, Genpact has utilized a chatbot called Amber to “interact” with employees up to eight times a year, asking questions designed to measure the worker’s level of engagement and general sentiment about work. Genpact says the approach is more successful than the traditional employee survey method.


“Surround yourself not only with the best people and the smartest people but also the ones that are going to tell you what they think.”

That’s one of the lessons WeWork founder Adam Neumann says he learned from the company’s spectacular crash, implying that his splendid mismanagement of the $20 billion startup was down to a management base of sycophants. Neumann, who has raised $350 million for his latest venture, Flow, says he is now looking to work with people “brave” enough to tell him the “hard truth” about his business.

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