Jan 16, 2023 - Economy

Employers trusted more than government

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Adapted from the Edelman Trust Barometer. Chart: Axios Visuals

Business continues to gain trust around the world, according to the new Edelman Trust Barometer.

  • Among respondents, "my employer" is 25 points more trusted than government or elected officials.
  • "Business is the sole institution seen as competent and ethical," Edelman CEO Richard Edelman says. "Business is expected to act."

Why it matters: CEOs are now under pressure to take the lead on a wide range of societal issues that government is no longer trusted to manage.💡 The most reliable source of information, Edelman found: the company newsletter.

  • "We first saw data supporting the essential role of employer communications during the pandemic, when we found high demand for frequent communications about health-related topics," according to Edelman.
  • "Since then, we have asked about the relative credibility of employer communications across topics, and have found it is the most believable source — no matter which subject we ask about."

Government, by contrast, "is viewed as unethical and incompetent," Edelman — the global communications firm — writes in its 23rd annual Trust Barometer, released today to coincide with the opening of Davos.

  • Business holds a 54-point lead over government in competence — and 30 points in ethics.
  • "Low trust in government and media has ... aided the ascent of business," writes Dave Samson, Edelman's Vice Chairman, Global Corporate Practice and U.S. chief operating officer.

Societal leadership, Edelman argues, is now a core function of business.

  • "CEOs are expected to use resources to hold divisive forces accountable," the report says.
  • "72 percent want business to defend facts and expose questionable science being used to justify bad social policy .... 64 percent want companies to support politicians and media outlets that build consensus and cooperation."

How it works: The survey, conducted by the Edelman Trust Institute, used online interviews with 32,000+ adults in more than two dozen countries to gauge the credibility of various institutions.

  • For each, respondents are asked to indicate, on a 9-point scale, "how much you trust that institution to do what is right."

By the numbers: Since last year's survey, trust in business gained 6 points in the U.S.

  • Globally, 68% say "brands celebrating what brings us together and emphasizing our common interest would help increase civility and strengthen the social fabric," the report says.

Richard Edelman advises: "CEOs are expected to take a public stand and take business action on key issues, with 85% expected to play a role in strengthening our social fabric."

  • Individual companies are the best platform because they have a high level of trust.
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