Our natural desire as humans is to connect, to trust someone that connection needs to be authentic.
We’re people first and professionals second. Something we often forget when in disagreement over issues that sit in conflict with our values and livelihoods, which quickly erodes trust. My name is Penny Clark-Hall, I’m a daughter, a wife, a mother (not to the same person, as someone recently pointed out) and passionate advocate for the future of our primary sector. My dad, brother and husband are all farmers and I’ve worked in and around the sector since I was old enough to move a sheep and plant a tree. My biggest fear is losing my family and my greatest weakness is measuring my self-worth through others. Why am I sharing this with you? Because building authentic connections requires a high level of transparency and vulnerability. This is what grows trust, which sits at the core of social licence. So who are we trying to earn trust with? For the primary sector, our stakeholder network goes as far as every single New Zealander reliant on the resources we use and every person worldwide that consumes our products. Today, their bullshit radar is on high alert, they’re craving authentic experiences and their values are their new religion. To build trust their needs to be authenticity and accountability - that is actions beyond the words. Knowing you will you do what you say you will, earns you the privilege of people taking you at face value. Beyond that, put people first. If you can give people something to be proud of by reflecting their culture and values back to them, to the point they see themselves in you. Air New Zealand does it well, to the point where our culture and people is their business and brand. They also take ownership of their impacts and are visible in rectifying them through such things as their carbon offsetting initiative and keeping provincial flights going often at a loss. Social licence is like a marriage. It’s a relationship that is only as strong as the work you put into it. Some are more successful than others, which comes down to compatibility - shared values and respect - and at the centre of every good relationship is a strong sense of trust. We all know trust is incredibly hard to earn and so easy to lose, so it pays to invest time and resource into earning it. Think of trust like a currency - the more you have the more resilient your business (relationships) will be.