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Expand chart
Data: Edelman Trust Barometer; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

People expect corporations and CEOs to continue addressing the most pressing social and political issues even after the pandemic is over, according to new data.

Why it matters: While this provides opportunities for some companies to grow, it also puts more pressure on CEOs and business leaders to address more than just shareholder returns.

Details: Trust in the government is at an all-time low globally, according to the latest mid-year Edelman Trust Barometer study.

  • Businesses are now the most trusted institution in the world, a role they assumed mid-way through the pandemic, once people realized governments were ill-equipped to develop and rollout vaccines alone.
  • Globally, the majority (60%) of people say their country will not be able to overcome its challenges without business’ involvement. Across every issue measured, people say businesses have outperformed government.

Be smart: Most people (77%) said their employer has become their most trusted institution, which has put much more pressure on CEOs to prioritize societal and political issues in addition to business outcomes.

  • Roughly 80% of employees, on average, expect their company to act on issues such as vaccine hesitancy, climate change, automation, misinformation, and racism.
  • Before the pandemic, customers were considered the most important business stakeholders. Now, it's employees.

Yes, but: There is a stark difference between people's perception of different institutions, depending on how advanced their country and economy is.

  • People in developed countries, like the U.S., U.K., France, Japan and Canada, are far less trusting of government compared to people in developing countries, like India, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa and the UAE.

What to watch: The study finds that businesses could be in this position for a long time.

  • And even though vaccines have proven so far to be effective, a majority people of people globally say they are "still in a pandemic mindset" and aren't yet comfortable not doing common activities, like shopping in stores, eat out or sending kids to school, even those with vaccines.

Methodology: The survey includes 16,800 people in 14 markets: Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, S. Africa, S. Korea, UAE, UK, and U.S.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Aug 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Refugees face a future of rising walls and no safe harbor

A pair of Guatemalan asylum-seekers sit outside the San Ysidro crossing port at the U.S.-Mexico border. Photo: Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images

The Afghanistan situation — hundreds of thousands of people desperate to flee their country with few safe and accepting places to go — is just one sign of a future that will be shaped by a growing migration crisis.

Why it matters: Whether because of violence, persecution, climate change or economic distress, rising numbers of people will leave the only homes they've known in search of a safer and better life abroad — even as the politics in destination countries sours on accepting them.

8 mins ago - World

Biden to warn Putin U.S. will add troops in Eastern Europe if Russia invades Ukraine

Putin meets Biden in Geneva. Photo: Peter Klaunzer - Pool/Keystone via Getty

President Biden will warn Russian President Vladimir Putin when they speak on Tuesday that if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. is prepared to increase its troop presence, capabilities and military exercises on NATO's "eastern flank," a senior administration official told reporters.

Why it matters: The administration believes it's increasingly likely that Putin will order an invasion.

41 mins ago - World

U.S. announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

An Olympic-themed sculpture in Beijing on Dec. 1. Photo: Hou Yu/China News Service via Getty Images

The U.S. announced Monday that it will not send officials to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: The diplomatic boycott — which won't prevent American athletes from competing — marks a major escalation between the U.S. and China amid already heightened tensions over the CCP's treatment of Muslim minorities, military threats to Taiwan and economic tariffs.

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