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Rebuilding trust with New Zealand

Dairy Exporter August 2019 edition.

What my professional and personal experience has taught me over the years is the importance and power of our shared humanity. It can change lives, it can change politics and it can change our social licence. The earning of a social licence is really not that complicated. It all boils down to relationships and the trust capital within them. It’s as simple as being a “good human” or humanising how we operate and engage with our stakeholders. More and more, the stakeholder net is widening as economies globalise, the challenge is to connect with and understand them. This is not exclusive to the primary sector or New Zealand. Many society’s values are becoming their new religion where economic security is no longer the focus. This means all businesses and industries are being held accountable beyond their shareholders and bottom line. The greater good is the key driver. Sounds good right? Who doesn’t want to be doing something for the greater good? The problem is how that is achieved and what that looks like is incredibly divisive and that all comes back to values and trust. Like a reputation, trust is not easy to earn but easy to lose, so we have a considerable amount of work to do in the primary sector. As I’ve alluded, values are incredibly divisive but fundamental here. The ‘Value Connection’ is where you find familiarity, respect and confidence, which gives you trust. Unaligned values are showing businesses and industry up every week, such as the banking industry being called out for questionable investment portfolios, law firm Russell McVeagh’s culture of sexual misconduct and Parliament’s culture of bullying - the list goes on and on and on. If you’re out of sync with the general populace’s values and opinion the trust they have in you will start to wane and you will get called out. So how do we empower our industry and the people within it to realign with our stakeholder’s values without going bankrupt? One of the simplest answers to that is genuine, meaningful and consistent stakeholder engagement. While hard to engage when you’re feeling attacked, it is not impossible. My belief is that ‘from the ground up’ is the best approach because that’s where authenticity is born and trust is grown. It’s about owning our failures and mistakes and having the humility to recognise the impact we have. Our stakeholders are a lot more cynical these days, their bullshit radar is on high alert. You only need to look at the Occupy Wall St movement and Dirty Dairying campaign to understand that sweeping things under the rug, or apportioning blame, will only inflame the situation further degrading the level of trust we have. Being transparent shows your stakeholders you respect them enough to make yourself vulnerable to them, with a genuine desire to do better. Be brave. Own it and don’t be afraid to ask for help. We are all only human. People will be far more generous with their forgiveness if they see you trying and understand your vulnerabilities. We live in a big complex world full of diversity that too often divides us. It is always our choice in how we respond to those who chose division, don’t join them stay above the line and pick humanity

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