“Whatever the nature of collaboration, success is based on trust”

Virginie Coulloudon on trust, transparency and collaboration, ahead of her address at the European Communication Summit

The 11th edition of the European Communication Summit will be held in Brussels on June 29 and 30 2017. This year, speakers at the Summit will be sharing their expertise on the forms of collaboration that can be seen today at many levels of society. One of those speakers is Virginie Coulloudon.

From 2012 to March 2017 Virginie was group director for external relations at Transparency International. She will be speaking at the Summit on collaboration in a time of disruption, providing insight into the collaborative efforts she oversaw during her time at Transparency International. In a preview to her presentation at the Summit, she explains to Communication Director why trust is the bedrock of any fruitful collaboration and how transparency, among other factors, is crucial to building trust between different organisations, institutions and people.

How important is transparency and an open approach when it comes to collaboration?

Whatever the nature of collaboration, success is based on trust. Transparency is a necessary, yet by far not the only element of trust building. Companies that upload their audited reports on a hidden page of their website without making them easy to find or read are not seen as being transparent because they are not perceived as being inclusive and trustworthy. Data show that despite heavy investments in transparency and compliance, many corporations and companies continue to suffer from an image of opacity and lack of trust. What they have to ask themselves is: What kind of transparency is needed for a trustworthy collaboration? One needs to add reciprocity to transparency and openness. It’s only through inclusive dialogue, active listening and genuine exchange that collaboration is perceived as being open and transparent.

What are the benefits for an NGO entering a collaboration with another organisation?

NGOs know how to engage with active citizens to bring trust to projects. They know how to leverage the power of the many and the power of good will to address the multiple challenges that any business or corporation encounters. Active citizenship is key to sustaining trust between institutions, corporations, and society. NGOs shape communities of experts and thought leaders and are able to build trust through active dialogue, a shared purpose, and engagement. This is particularly crucial at a time when citizens look for a clear purpose in whatever they do and most of what they buy. They now expect corporations to stimulate the public good and to be an active member of their environment. Citizens bring legitimacy and support to any corporation, company or NGO. To enter into dialogue with them is essential to building trust. 

To find out more about the Summit programme and to secure your tickets head to the European Communication Summit website.

Virginie Coulloudon

Dr. Virginie Coulloudon is the executive director of Your Public Value, a Berlin-based NGO focusing on business ethics and developing dialogue between business and society through Public Value Labs. Previously, she was group director for external relations at Transparency International, spokesperson of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and head of communications, Europe, at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. A former investigative journalist and permanent correspondent in Moscow, she then was research director at the Harvard Davis Center for Russian Studies.