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Businesses need to scrap leaders for trust

Though Hong Kongers exhibit a higher level of trust for businesses, media, NGOs and the government than the rest of the world, the gap between the trust for businesses in the general public versus informed population – i.e. business executives, professionals, etc – is one of the largest in the region, measuring a difference of 13 points.

The 13th annual global study Trust Barometer survey by Edelman, where more than 30,000 respondents across 26 countries have been surveyed over the past five to eight years, shows the varying trust levels for government, NGOs, media and businesses.

Out of the four, businesses ranked the lowest, and Andrew Kirk, managing director of Edelman Hong Kong and Taiwan, attributes it to the lack of trust in leaders, which are only trusted by 25% of the general population.

“Institutions in Hong Kong are reasonably well-trusted in business, but in the past, there have been various scandals, illegal structure and protests, which are the largest reasons for disbelieving in leaders,” he said.

“Think about it: one in five people see that business leaders will tell the truth, which is a very worrying statistic.”

Alan VanderMolen (pictured), president and CEO of global practices at Edelman, chimed in, advising businesses to revamp the outdated communication model of using a CEO as an authoritative symbol and spreading the message through traditional mass media.

“Businesses nowadays are still following an outdated model of communication, where they bring out the figure head, say what they want to say to a handful of well-recognised media, that’s not the way it works anymore,” he said, adding that the public expects a high-level of engagement through real-time dialogue and transparency.

“The leaders of organisations in Hong Kong have been very slow to adopt social media. To gain the trust of the masses, you can’t simply live in the world dominated by newspapers anymore,”  VanderMolen said.

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