Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer report provides a clear message to corporates. Behaving ethically and competently will earn employee trust. It’s a call to arms that is as good for business as it is for society in general. Corporates can fulfil an ethical social imperative to support those in need, while their proven CSR commitment will attract and retain employees.
While the annual Edelman Trust Survey provides valuable insight on trends of the year that was, it is equally interesting to see how recent reports, and events, have informed these findings. There’s no need for a crystal ball here.
In the 2019 Trust Barometer findings respondents cited concern for the environment and their employment. They wanted their employer to engage meaningfully with societal issues. To be worthy of trust, employer competency and ethics were placed under scrutiny. In 2020, a year of social turmoil, the follow-up Special Brand Trust Report called for brands to act and advocate for change. There was a clear message – people want their employers, and brands, to engage on a deeper and more meaningful level.
In the full 2020 report, Australia has experienced a significant surge in trust across business, government, media and NGOs. The concerns respondents raised around competency and ethics in 2019 has been addressed in a stark shift, with respondents viewing both business and NGOs as competent and ethical for the first time. Quite an achievement.
Employers have emerged as a crucial trust bond, with 78% of respondents trusting their employer over government and media. In fact, respondents cited their CEO as the most trusted leader behind scientists and people in their own local community. Within this is a huge responsibility, and opportunity.
Inherent in a culture looking for strong leaders, is the understanding that we are operating in a society under pressure. From bushfires, racial equality protests and the COVID-19 pandemic, the socio-economic repercussions are significant, and ongoing. With so many requiring support, there is arguably a moral imperative for corporate and business leaders to engage with charitable giving to support those in need. Their employees expect it and welcome it.