Learn More About Shalene Gupta
There is a crisis of trust permeating society and businesses have no choice but to address it.
Trust issues show up in many forms. A scandal or product defect may cause customers to distrust a brand. People who feel overlooked or undercompensated in the workplace because of their skin color, gender or sexual orientation may come to distrust their employer. Citizen distrust in governments is an age-old problem. And without trust in each other, business leaders cannot successfully build an organization together.
“The good news is, trust can be cultivated and lost trust can be regained,” explains Shalene Gupta, co-author of “The Power of Trust: How Companies Build It, Lose It, Regain It” (Public Affairs, July 2021) with Harvard Business School Professor Sandra J. Sucher. “But it is a deliberate process that must be activated with intention and a commitment to open conversations.” Soon after its release, “The Power of Trust” was named among the best business books in July 2021 by The Financial Times.
Gupta – a research associate at Harvard Business School who previously worked as a reporter at Fortune and as a financial analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department – studies and writes about the intersection of technology, diversity, trust and the workplace. A Chinese-Indian American who studied and taught in Malaysia on a Fulbright scholarship, she has seen firsthand how a lack of trust can create a barrier to productivity, communication and innovation in the workplace, eroding both business and personal relationships. As a corporate advisor, author and journalist, she uses practical frameworks to teach leaders how they can build trust within their organizations and address behaviors and policies that may be inadvertently causing people to mistrust them or their company. And, she emphasizes, leaders must be willing to let people speak their minds.
According to Gupta, the only way for leaders to build or regain trust is to first acknowledge that it’s important, then give it a place in the decision-making process. She even recommends putting a person in charge of trust, someone tasked with deciding whether certain decisions may positively or negatively affect trust.
“Companies don’t put trust at the center of their decision-making because they don’t know what that looks like and why it’s important,” says Gupta. “Yet it affects the bottom line and studies confirm that.”
In “The Power of Trust,” the co-authors examine the science behind trust and reveal how customers, employees, community members and investors decide whether an organization or a person can be trusted. They show that creating and sustaining trust does not come from “reputation building” and PR, but by being the “real deal,” creating products, services and technologies that work, having good intentions, treating people fairly, and taking responsibility for all the impacts an organization creates, whether intended or not. The in-depth stories they share, based on twenty years of research, shine a bright light on the business, economic and societal importance of trust.
“This is about figuring out what it takes for different stakeholders to trust your organization. It’s about bridging the gap between where you are and where you should be,” says Gupta. “Ultimately, trust is a license to operate.”
As an advisor, writer, researcher and speaker, Shalene Gupta addresses issues around diversity, equity and inclusion, technology, smart cities, big data and the Internet of Things. Her work has been published in Harvard Business Review, ESPN, Fortune, Kirkus Reviews, The New Straits Times, The Jakarta Post and Mint. She previously served as an editor at MIT Horizon, an MIT-owned start-up which seeks to advance knowledge within the business community about cutting-edge technologies. Gupta was named to the Thinkers50 Radar List in 2022. In 2021, Gupta and her “Power of Trust” co-author were shortlisted for the Thinkers50 Breakthrough Idea Award, which celebrates a eureka moment in management thinking.
Gupta received a Fulbright grant to Malaysia in 2012, where she taught English to over 2,000 low-income high-school students. While there, she also drew source material for her book documenting the history of the Malaysian Fulbright program, “Bridging the Pacific: Celebrating 50 Years of Fulbright in Malaysia,” and ran a leadership seminar for young women funded by the U.S. Department of State.
Gupta holds a B.A. in writing and psychology from Johns Hopkins and a masters in journalism from Columbia University.
Shalene Gupta is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.