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These days, hiding behind masks seems to be more and more the norm. And I’m not talking about Halloween. While terms like “transparency” are freely thrown around, true authenticity – especially in business and government – can be hard to come by.

According to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, a survey of approximately 33,000 people in 27 markets, the public’s trust in institutions (particularly government) is in steep decline. I was happy to hear the technology industry continues to lead as the most trusted sector. Also, not surprisingly, family-owned and small/medium-sized businesses outperformed big business in almost all regions (except Asia). However, overall trust in leadership has plateaued. The study found that academics and experts remain the most trusted sources of information about companies (followed closely by technical experts and “a person like yourself”). But CEOs and government leaders remain at the bottom of the list with extremely low trust levels.

I believe it all boils down to authenticity. That is, being genuine, and ultimately being trusted. Some say that authenticity in business is a uniquely 21st century concept. While I don’t believe that, I do believe the digital age is shining a brighter and hotter spotlight on all organizations – private and public. We live in an era where secrets or inauthenticity can be exposed with the click of the mouse. The Internet-savvy public is holding us all to a higher standard of “doing what we claim we can do.” And I applaud it!

People may try a product or service from a company they don’t know, but they’ll cast their loyalty with the company that earns their trust. Clearfield understands the importance of forging an authentic relationship with our customers. That’s why we wrote down our values, and why we hold them up every day as a guide to live by: “We make every decision by LISTENing to our clients, RECOGNIZEing our skills and talents, UNDERSTANDing our client’s needs, COLLABORATEing with each other to DELIVER the best solution — and then CELEBRATEing our success.”

A strong sense of ethics and a strong work ethic have helped to build Clearfield into a trusted company with loyal employees and customers. Business isn’t always easy. And striving to be being truly authentic requires a little extra effort. But ultimately, it is so worth it.

For more information on the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, click here.