What does big business need to do to earn your trust?

January 23, 2021, 5:39 PM UTC

A peaceful transfer of power doesn’t mean that threats of political violence—and difficult conversations about it—have ended. Tim Ryan, the chair of PwC U.S. weighs in with some advice below. (Hint: The actual challenge leaders are facing is proving that they’re trustworthy.)

But first, here’s your Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman-inspired week in review, in Haiku.

“Where can we find light 
in this never-ending shade?”
Asked by a new voice,

in a new moment,
free from the belly of a 
beast that stalks us all.

It took a poet
to capture the promise of
a hard-won hill, climbed

by many on the 
backs of a justice-seeking
few. Unfinished, yes

we are. But here’s a
good place to start: Pay all the
poets what they’re worth.

Wishing you a lyrically peaceful weekend.

Ellen McGirt

In brief

This week, the U.S. observed a peaceful transfer of power, and a new administration began. Next week, we’ll begin a deeper dive into the many policy changes announced by the Biden team. But more partisan bickering is also on the docket, and although my inbox has calmed down a bit, I know navigating these conversations are still top of mind.  

Tim Ryan, PwC’s U.S. chair, shared some pertinent advice in a Q&A with HBR, focusing on the work that he and other leaders need to do to make sure their houses are in order to better shape a new, inclusive evolution of capitalism. A snippet is below. His comments raise an important question that I'll be thinking about this year: Will CEOs be successful in their attempts to collaborate on pressing social issues? This is the mission of groups like the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion and Fortune's own CEO Initiative. While the work unfolds, one thing is becoming clear—success will require all stakeholders to be dialed-in to their work and prepared to hold them accountable.

From the piece:

I believe we are in an age where organizations are going to be challenged on every dimension of trust. Are you as diverse as you should be? Do you pay your fair share of taxes? Do you protect and use customer data the right way? Are you doing your fair share around ESG? Are you using customer data fairly and securely? The list goes on.

I don’t view moves around political contributions as a one-off. I view them as a response to the challenge of demonstrating that you are trustworthy. Are you doing what you say you do?

Events like the attack on the Capitol — these are the types of things that will define capitalism. I think the more business can anticipate trouble and lead the fight against inequity and other deep-seated societal problems, that’s where you really begin to earn trust.

Frankly, it’s easy to react. If something happens, we’ll do something. It’s a lot harder to anticipate and try to prevent something from happening. That’s where I think we’re going: Can we as a group of CEOs help prevent bad things from happening?

This gets to a fundamental question: Do we have the right mindset as leaders to make sure we’re trustworthy? Not just on general business and the bottom line, but on these urgent social issues, because they’re important to our employees, customers, and community.

So, with that in mind, the partners of PwC have committed to examining the strategy of our political action committee (PAC) and decided to suspend political contributions to any member of Congress who objected to the certification of the election. We will continue to make political donations to people on both sides of the aisle who support our values and our purpose.

Continue reading here.


raceAhead is edited by Aric Jenkins.

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Patrick Semansky/AP Photo—Bloomberg/Getty Images

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