Green Danes examine Pillars of Trust in the global economy

Denmark is the world’s least corrupt country, according to the annual corruption perception index drawn up by the anti-bribery watchdog Transparency International. It is also one of the most environmentally aware nations. When 20 people met in the Initiatives of Change (IofC) residential centre in Copenhagen on 28 May they looked at how to encourage the values that build trust in the economy.

Michael Smith, IofC’s head of business programmes in the UK, spoke about Pillars of Trust, taken from his recent book Great Company: trust, integrity and leadership in the global economy. He was accompanied by Talia Smith, project manager for IofC’s UK business programmes, who spoke about the decade of business conferences held in Caux, Switzerland, on the theme of Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy (TIGE), which mark their 10th anniversary this summer.

Among those in the Copenhagen audience was Tania Ellis, the Anglo-Danish author of the best-selling business book The New Pioneers, about corporate sustainability and responsibility, as well as entrepreneurs, an occupational psychologist from Denmark’s largest shipping and oil firm, a theologian, an army officer, students and NGO activists from countries ranging from Norway and Romania to Burma.

Smith outlined five pillars of trust needed in the economy: sustainability, cooperation, integrity, purpose and stewardship. Following an initial Q&A session, he went on to outline seven Cs which contribute to a culture of trust in business and organizations: Contractual, Competence, Covenant, Character, Conscience, Calling and Courage. This led to lively group discussions and feedback.

Victor Musuku from Zambia, who has worked with Initiatives of Change in Denmark for three years, welcomed the two speakers and hosted the event.

Denmark has pioneered environmental initiatives, including the carbon neutral island of Samso which exports 20 per cent of its green energy. Copenhagen now has 400 electric cars in its ‘drive now’ car sharing scheme, which the public can hire for short journeys at costs cheaper than usual taxis. Offshore windmills supply year-round electricity for thousands of homes.

But like the UK and other European nations, Denmark also faces the challenges of welcoming and assimilating immigrants, fleeing from wars and repression, into to a country which has a population less than the size of London.

The Danish IofC organizers hope that the Pillars of Trust event will be one of a series on similar themes held in the Initiatives of Change centre. Tania Ellis said she would be pleased to speak about the theme of her book.

Several said they were interested in taking part in the 10th anniversary TIGE conference in Caux, to be held from 5 to 10 July. For more conference information see:

Photos by Nils Finken and Mike Smith