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HR professionals should help build trust, says BBC Worldwide people director

HR professionals should act as role-models within organisations in an “authentic way" to help build trust, BBC Worldwide people director Kirsten Furber has said.

Speaking at the CIPD Cultivating Trustworthy Leaders Conference in Bath, Furber said people within the function should be known by “their names and not by the label of HR”.

“HR teams are crucial in the process of building trust,” she said. “When you act in an authentic way that’s when you can make connections with people and build trust.”

Speaking at the same event, head of Bath School of Management professor Veronica Hope Hailey explained that trust has eroded significantly since the financial crash and business leaders need to demonstrate their trustworthiness more than ever before.

“There is so much uncertainty that people need to find trust in their senior leaders in place of the certainty they used to have,” she said. “But for the leaders it’s no longer enough to set out to be trustworthy. You have to really demonstrate the trust in your actions.”

Hailey was discussing her report Experiencing Trustworthy Leadership. The study found that leaders don’t set out to be untrustworthy, but to gain the trust of employees they need to be honest and straight-talking.

“People hate spin and management speak,” she said. “If you have to make redundancies just explain it as such. People are very information savvy now so the likelihood is they’ll find out somehow anyway.”