Global Survey Shows All Time Low Levels of Trust in CEOs

A global report by public relations agency Edelman claims to have found that there is a crisis of public trust in business, institutions, government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Ahead of the publication of the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, agency CEO Richard Edelman said that trust had “imploded”.

Confidence in CEOs is poor, with only 37 percent agreeing that they are credible or very credible as spokespeople, a 12-percentage point drop on 2016’s figures and an all-time low since the survey began in 2001, the study, released Monday to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, showed. It questioned 33,000 people in 28 countries via an online survey.

Edelman said that the impact of trade or automation on their jobs was one of the concerns of people surveyed.

“How about the fact that CEO trust so collapsed this year?,” he said.

“CEOs’ trust has plummeted and I think it’s because of compensation and because people are disappointed.”

“They wanted CEOs to help fill the hole, they want more people like (Unilever CEO) Paul Polman or (outgoing Starbucks CEO) Howard Schultz. They want people who are recognizing that business has a social responsibility. I’m not talking about CSR (corporate social responsibility), I’m talking about dealing with automation or trade, what’s going to happen to me (as an employee),” he added.

The report also suggests that employees should be more of a focus in business. According to the report, in order to communicate industry views, innovation efforts and business practices, the general staff are now seen by the public as the most trusted spokespeople ahead of the CEO, senior executives and others. For example, compared to 20 percent of people who trust the CEO, thirty-eight percent of them trust employees to communicate financial earnings and operational performance.

“Companies talk to their employees last, and that is a mistake, that’s crazy. If you look at the data, the CEO is half as credible on all subjects as the employees,” Edelman said. His advice to business is to “use your employees, let them know what is going on and talk to them honestly. The predominant method of communication is peer-to-peer, it’s not top-down.”

The survey also stated that trusted as much as media as an institution are media owned by businesses, such as their own websites and social channels. Both are trusted by 43 percent of people.

For news reports like “sexual acts documented by the Russians,” which were branded “fake news” by the President-elect last week who called the news site a “failing pile of garbage” and BuzzFeed’s publication of the unverified dossier that described “contact between Donald Trump aides and Russian operatives,” the mainstream media also needs to do more to gain trust, according to Edelman.

“I thought it is really proper that the (New York)Times said they put five reporters on it, we had it in June, and we couldn’t find anything. I think the other media is going to have to step up and say “no” so that media is not seen as a kind of group that is tied to the elite, that it polices itself,”Edelman said.

(Adapted from CNBC)

Categories: Economy & Finance, HR & Organization, Uncategorized

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