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How much do consumers trust business? Very much, it seems

How much do consumers trust business? Very much, it seems

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Business are now considered the most competent and ethical global institution, trumping governments all over the world, said a recent finding from Edelman. According to the 2023 findings from Edelman’s Trust Barometer businesses now hold a 54-point lead in competence, and 30-point lead in ethics over governments.

A large part of this trust was driven during the pandemic where more businesses took the active stance of putting employees' needs first. Moreover, the swift exit of 1000 businesses from Russia following the Ukraine invasion also aided in the 20-point jump on ethics over the results of 2022. Hence, with the largest score of 62%, business remains the most and only trusted institution globally.

The report also highlighted the powerful position held by CEOs with many consumers expecting them to take a public stand, and for business to take action on key issues. A whopping 86% of people expect business leaders to play a role in strengthening their social fabric. Nonetheless, business must tread carefully, as 52% of businesses feel that they cannot avoid being politicised when it addresses contentious societal issues. To avoid being seen as politically motivated business must be a trustworthy source of information (46%), base their actions on science (43%), and not consistently align with one political party (39%).

Many respondents (72%) also said that they want business to defend facts and expose questionable science being used to justify bad social policies.

Around 71% of respondents said business should pull advertising money out of media platforms that do not control misinformation.

Approximately 64% want companies to support politicians and media outlets that build consensus and cooperation.

This year’s report reveals that economic optimism has collapsed globally (50% to 40%), with half of the countries surveyed showing a year-over-year double-digit decline in the belief that their families will be better off in the future.  Many respondents also believe CEOs can help restore economic optimism by paying fair wages (84%), ensuring their home community is safe, strong, and thriving (79%), and by making sure their organisation pays its fair share of taxes(78%) while retraining workers affected by job automation (78%).

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“The increased level of trust in business brings with it higher than ever expectations of CEOs to be a leading voice on societal issues,” said Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman. “By a six-to-one margin, respondents want more societal involvement by business on issues such as climate change, economic inequality, and workforce reskilling. But business must tread carefully, over half of our respondents (52 percent) say it cannot avoid being politicised when it addresses contentious societal issues.” 

However, this does not mean government is unimportant. Respondents agree that the most effective way to bring about improvement is for business and government to work together. When they do, business has to advocate for truth and play an essential role in the information ecosystem by being a model of reliable information, promoting civil discourse, and holding disinformation sources accountable. 

There are interconnected forces helping drive polarization: the imbalance of trust among institutions. There is a double-digit trust gap between business and government. Two-thirds believe the lack of civility and mutual respect today is the worst they have ever seen. A majority believe government leaders (41%) and journalists (47%), the least trusted of all the institutional leaders, are divisive forces intensifying our differences and media is now the least trusted of the four major institutions  

Related articles:
Edelman's APAC tech VP John Kerr leaves firm after 16 years
Edelman Singapore names technology lead
Edelman HK beefs up creative team with new appointments

 

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