Oral Histories

Roger Bolton

Interview Segments on Topic: Trust/Credibility

Roger Bolton Biography

Bolton, senior counselor to APCO Worldwide, a leading global public affairs and corporate communications consultancy, began his career as a journalist before serving as a press secretary for a member of Congress.  Bolton became director of speechwriting for the Reagan/Bush re-election campaign, and was eventually confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be assistant secretary of the Treasury for public affairs and public liaison under President Bush in 1989.

As senior vice president of communications for Aetna, Bolton led a group of senior Aetna executives to think about culture and organizational effectiveness, which resulted in the creation of the Aetna Way, with integrity as its first fundamental value.  Roger Bolton is past president of the Arthur W. Page Society and current chair of the Arthur W. Page Center Advisory Board.


Interviewer: You mentioned your experience at Aetna with the creation of yet a way which has obviously been a very effective thing for that corporation. I was wondering if there are other things that have occurred to you as you’ve seen it work effectively at the Page Society or other groups could be instrumental in helping to establish like a training in ethics per se or other things that you have helped corporations function better particularly American corporations known throughout the world not only for their innovativeness but their productivity being but for being just great ethical operating companies you want to do business with. You are in sort of [inaudible] you know far better than I do. But you know the current situation is that. Are there things you think you could do to help American businesses to improve their “ethical reputations” besides the building trust activity. It’s a kind of rooted question.

Bolton: Well you know again I think that’s what we’re searching for and I appreciate your reference to the Aetna Way. Because I think that the Aetna Way, the J & J credo others like it really are something that can distinguish corporations and make them become more trustworthy. Not because they have them and they put them up on the wall and that should somehow be admired. But because if they’re done correctly, they can actually change the way you operate. And if they do that, and leave you to be institutions that are not only dedicated to ethics and integrity but also dedicated to understanding the needs and relating to the needs of public constituencies. Then that’s it’s sort of who you really are as opposed to what you say that is critically important and if a credo or a set of values can make you fundamentally operate that way, then that’s how you earn trust. It’s day by day in the marketplace in the way you conduct your business with a compass and set of ethics.