It’s easy to become jaded in the business world. We talk about bottom lines, shareholder value, top line revenues, and operational efficiencies. These are all very important things, no doubt. Focusing on those criteria alone, though, makes it easy to become metric driven and lose sight of the values that drive relationships. As someone that has made compliance her profession, one might expect that I would be among the most cynical – after all, the theory goes, my job is predicated on the notion that people cannot be trusted to do what they’re supposed to do. But I’m a compliance altruist. I believe wholeheartedly in the notion that trust is what drives business and that having a robust, effective, mature compliance program in place is a demonstration that an organization is trustworthy.
Francis Fukuyama wrote a book several years ago called Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity. In it, he proposed the idea that trust and ethics, or as he described it “a common set of ethical norms” was central to economic well-being. “If people who have to work together in an enterprise trust one another because they are all operating according to a common set of ethical norms, doing business costs less…” It costs less because we know that our colleagues and our partners will behave in ways that we expect, and that serve the good of the organization.
Too often in our world, we are confronted with the notion that trust is a quaint idea that doesn’t really belong in business. To some degree that is correct. We certainly have to be careful not to introduce unnecessary risk into the business. We ensure this by doing due diligence on partners, negotiating contracts, and complying with regulatory regimes. We do these things, though, to create a certain degree of trust – trust that rules will be followed, that contracts will be fulfilled, and that business will be conducted fairly. Fukuyama suggests, and I tend to agree, that trust is really the engine for our economic development.
As a compliance professional, that’s what I strive for, the creation of a culture that produces trust, so that doing business with us is easier and more predictable. It’s consistent. Our growth doesn’t come at the expense of doing the right thing. That’s why I am excited and proud to join TrustCommerce, a company that has always been built on trust, ethics, and doing the right thing. As an organization, it has developed an ethical culture and its employees are empowered to live that core value. In the long run, that commitment to ethics and compliance improves the bottom line, and allows us to better serve our clients, partners, and merchants.