- Edelman last week released results from its updated Trust Barometer study, which focused on topics related to coronavirus. The survey polled 13,000 people in 11 countries.
- Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, speaking at a Spotlight digital live event, said that for the first time, governments were found to be more trustworthy than business in most markets.
- CEOs need to be more visible and demonstrate how they can run their businesses “in a stakeholder fashion,” or risk more government intervention over the next few years, Edelman says.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Richard Edelman said businesses are facing a “reckoning” in the wake of the global pandemic, where CEOs will be judged by their long-term vision and for leading their companies in a “stakeholder fashion.”
Edelman’s Spring update to its annual Trust Barometer study focused on the impact of the coronavirus. It found that governments were found to be the most trusted institution — for the first time in the 20-year history of the study.
Businesses and CEOs, however, were found to be falling short. Most respondents said they believe business is not putting people before profits, not implementing enough safety measures to protect employees, and not helping small business suppliers and customers by extending credit or payment terms.
Edelman said that responses to the pandemic may create a reconsideration of the role of government in society, running counter to the deregulation trend that has dominated the last several decades.
“If business performs in this moment of reckoning, then private enterprise will have proven that it can run even through a crisis in a stakeholder fashion,” Edelman said. “Barring that, if it’s bad performance by business, just short-term profits, I believe there will be much more government involvement, if not control, over key parts of the economy – especially in Europe.”
CEOs were at the top of trust tables back in January, when Edelman revealed the results of the annual study, so the change in attitude has been swift and dramatic. Edelman said the visibility of government officials has been a major factor in the results. “We basically perceive that which we see…You don’t see CEOs,” he said. “More or less they have their heads down, trying to actually fix their business models. “
Part of the problem is that CEOs are apprehensive about appearing opportunistic or inappropriate, in contrast to the government officials and scientists that are driving coronavirus response. But Edelman said the public wants to hear from business leaders. “You have to talk about how we’re going to get back to the new normal, what the new normal is going to look like.”
Communicating during this period of huge uncertainty is outside the comfort zone of many CEOs. “Here we are in this new world of big question marks,” Edelman said. “CEOs are used to certainty.”
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
Help us tell more of the stories that matterBecome a founding member
That should not prevent business leaders from being visible, Edelman said. “People want to hear from you. Your employees, your customers, they want to know that you actually have values, that you place people over profits, and that you have a strategy.”
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe