Trust is the difference between a resilient business and one that’s just ‘hanging on’

Building trust means shifting your business from a compliance model to one built on principles.
Thomas Barwick—Getty Images

This month the Trust Factor is publishing a series of interviews with chief trust officers, sharing their insights on the value prioritizing trust brings to their business.

Trust, says Andrew Clearwater, the chief trust architect at privacy and security software provider OneTrust, makes the difference between a “resilient, successful business and one that’s just sort of hanging on.”

“When it’s necessary to compete at the highest level to communicate to others that you’re doing something that stands out, then you’re going to have to move away from a compliance model and towards a trust model,” Clearwater says.

Clearwater has held the title of chief trust architect since November last year, having risen through the ranks as chief privacy officer and chief trust officer during his seven years at OneTrust.

While his positions have held a similar theme, Clearwater says the focus of his role evolved from its origin in data privacy—ensuring and assuring customers that their data was safe and being utilized appropriately—to one overseeing “collaboration between our internal programs that were focused on privacy, security, ethics, and ESG.” 

“There is this need for people in roles that were once kind of narrowly focused on personal data to expand into other types of areas, regardless whether they continue to call themselves privacy officers or start to talk about collaborating with their peers in the context of trust,” Clearwater says.

Clearwater’s latest role reports to the chief legal officer, as do the ethics and security, and ESG department heads. That chain of command, funneling the various departments to a common leader, allows for Clearwater’s trust collaborators to swiftly report concerns and needs to the CEO and board. 

But, Clearwater says, dealing with issues of “trust” presents hurdles that other departments might encounter less often, and that difficulty lies in the transition from a “compliance” model to a “trust model” mentioned up top. 

“When you are working in a space that is not defined by legal requirements but by principle and aspiration, the case that you have to make for action is more difficult,” Clearwater says. For example, advocating to not do something illegal instantly gets a vote of approval; advocating to do something that might intangibly boost trustworthiness is a harder sell.

Establishing protocols for measuring the effectiveness of your company’s trustworthiness on its performance is a key task for any executive advocating for trust building. Surveys and feedback are two ways to measure that metric; another could be tracking the speed at which new deals with repeat customers are approved.

Once you have the receipts, working with different departments to get them on board with the principles you’re proposing—such as, not deploying A.I. programs without reviewing potential fallout—is vital.

“Making sure that you have buy-in beyond your department and beyond your immediate business groups is important. And the more you build a habit around this decision-making and learning who to go to, the more successful you’ll be.”

Eamon Barrett


Finance and wellness
Gen Zers are still in the early stages of their careers and personal finance journeys, but their financial habits are already proving to be radically different from those of their predecessors, writes Molly Barth. Gen Z is prioritizing “mental well-being, personal growth, and fulfillment” over financial gain, Barth says, eschewing the #hustleculture of yesteryear.

Bailing out water
Thames Water provides water to nearly a third of Britain’s population. But the utility company, which has come under fire for wasting massive amounts of water and persistent sewage leaks, may need a government rescue as it struggles to get enough funding to keep it afloat. Fortune’s Prarthana Prakash reports how the company sank itself into $17 billion worth of debt.

Artificial journalism
Fortune editor-in-chief Alyson Shontell recently sat down with Axel Springer CEO, Mathias Döpfner, to discuss the future of the publishing industry in the A.I. age. Periodical publisher Axel Springer recently culled 200 jobs at the German newspaper Bild—20% of its newsroom—at least partly because those jobs could now be performed by A.I. or automation. But Döpfner says there is still a role for humans in his business.

Beyond affirmative action
“Businesses of all sizes must build connections not only with colleges and universities but also with primary and secondary schools to help them produce college-ready students, whether through investments, internship opportunities, or mentorship,” says Pace University president Marvin Krislov in the wake of the Supreme Court striking down race-based admissions decisions.


“Impact is a journey, not a switch. Typically, people do not grow out of poverty in 10 years–it’s more like a generation. We need to see impact measurement in the same way: It happens over time, in fits and starts, and it can even change direction over time as people, products, and the world change.”

Daryl Collins, CEO of social research firm Decodis, says (sharing a sentiment I’ve touched on at Fortune) that the ‘S’ of ESG could be transformative, but first companies need to learn how to measure it. Decodis thinks it has found a way.

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