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New Edelman Trust Barometer is out – companies and CEOs expected to take a stand


The annual Edelman Trust Barometer interviews citizens from 28 countries in order to examine public perception and trust towards businesses, governments, NGOs, and media. The 2023 edition revealed that trust in business among respondents is still highest at 62%, while NGOs, government, and media stagnate around 50%. Globally speaking, the gap between business and government continues to widen, whereas people still believe that the best societal outcomes are achieved when both work together.


In the category of information, a majority of 48% of survey respondents view business as a reliable and trustworthy source, giving it a distinct advantage over media outlets and governments. Business leaders are similarly well-regarded, with a higher likelihood of being viewed as unifiers compared to government officials or journalists. This trend is further reinforced by the 20-point increase in the ethics score for business between 2020 and 2023. Employers continue to be the most trusted institution, and among those who feel polarized, employers are even the only trusted institution.


The survey also showed that consumers and employees are putting pressure on businesses to take a stand, with 63% of people saying they buy or advocate for brands based on their beliefs and values. 69% of people say that having a societal impact is a strong expectation or deal breaker when considering a job. This means that businesses need to reflect employees' values and offer meaningful jobs that serve a greater purpose.


When looking at corporate and CEO activism, 50% of people want more societal engagement from business, specifically in the area of climate change and economic inequality. While most people expect CEOs to take a public stand on issues such as the treatment of employees, discrimination, as well as climate change, it puts the business at risk of being politicized. Respondents advise that in order to prevent this, businesses should prioritize being a trustworthy source of information, making decisions based on scientific evidence, and refraining from aligning themselves with any particular political party.

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