Global trust in business sector grows
18 January 2021 at 5:59 pm
New data shows business is the only institution deemed ethical and competent
Business has emerged as the most trusted institution globally, according to new research that highlights a growing expectation on the corporate sector to lead on social issues.
The 2021 global Edelman Trust Barometer found that business (with an index score of 61) was more trusted than NGOs (57), government (53) and the media (51) for the first time in the index’s 21-year history.
Richard Edelman, the CEO of Edelman, said business had become the most trusted institution on the back of its tireless efforts developing COVID-19 vaccines while also pivoting to new ways of working.
Business was also the only institution ranked both ethical and competent, while NGOs were seen as the most ethical institution but recorded a negative score for competency (mimicking last year’s results).
Edelman said these findings reflected a growing expectation for businesses to act ethically and protect the community, especially amid the devastation of the pandemic.
“The events of this past year reinforced business’ responsibility to lead on societal issues, such as upskilling workers and racial justice,” Edelman said.
“It has also led to new expectations of business expanding its remit into unfamiliar areas, such as providing and safeguarding information.”
The report – which contains findings from more than 33,000 respondents in 28 countries – said more than eight in 10 people want CEOs to speak up on important social issues.
More than two-thirds said businesses should step in when the government fails to fix social problems.
Dave Samson, Edelman’s vice chairman of corporate affairs, said there was a leadership void that CEOs must fill.
“It starts with a broader mandate for business that focuses on societal engagement with the same rigor, used to deliver on profits,” Samson said.
“Business must work to fulfil the Business Roundtable’s promise of a stakeholder economy, but it cannot be a solo actor.
“It must partner with government and NGOs to take collective action to solve societal problems.”
The report also found that trust in NGOs decreased in 11 of 27 countries, but they remained trusted in Australia – where trust rose by 8 per cent compared with last year.
Trust in the government rose in 18 of 27 countries, including in Australia which recorded a 17 per cent uptick in trust.