Edelman Trust Barometer shows importance of businesses ‘speaking up’ on social issues, advises Edelman CEO

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The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer provides key insights for employers, and underscores the need for business leaders to play an active role in social and policy issues, Edelman CEO Richard Edelman told Fox News Digital. 

The global communications firm Edelman has conducted its Trust Barometer annually since 2000, and believes trust is the “ultimate currency” that organizations build with their stakeholders.

According to the results of this year’s survey, “My Employer” was viewed as more trustworthy than governments, media, corporations, advertising and social media. 

Results also revealed that trust in government and media has declined since 2020, making business the “only trusted institution.” 

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Ellen Pompeo and Richard Edelman

Ellen Pompeo (L) and Richard Edelman speak onstage during the Edelman session at the Cannes Lions Festival 2018 on June 19, 2018 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Francois G. Durand/Getty Images) ((Photo by Francois G. Durand/Getty Images) / Getty Images)

Edelman told Fox News Digital there were three key takeaways for business owners and leaders from the survey, beginning with “My Employer” being the most trusted institution. 

“It is stable for the last four years … and now, 30 points higher than government,” Edelman said. “That’s why there are new burdens put on business about anything from sustainability to diversity to geopolitics.”

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The second major point, Edelman said, is the workplace being a “bastion of stability” within society, 

“It is a place where you can actually talk about societal issues safely, with your coworkers, as opposed to your neighbors across the picket fence,” he said. “That’s a shocker.” 

The third key takeaway was “trust in my employer” is a foundation on which to build back trust across society, Edelman said. 

“If you have high trust in my employer, it drags all the other institutions up, from media to government,” he said.

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More than being distrusted, government and media are seen as divisive, the survey showed, with businesses and NGOs being seen as more unifying forces within society. 

The result of these key takeaways, Edelman said, is that societal leadership is now expected to be a core function of many businesses, and most employees expect their employer to take an active role in shaping policy. 

“If you’re an employer, speaking up on issues of the day is a positive for both Republicans and Democrats,” Edelman said, noting that the survey showed more than 50 percent of Republicans wanting their employer to speak up about social issues. 

laborers stand on industrial site

Silhouette of Engineer and worker team on building site, Industrial sector construction site at sunset in evening time (iStock / iStock)

Eighty-one percent of participants said CEOs should be personally visible when discussing policy, and 60 percent said when considering a job, they expect the CEO of the company to speak publicly about social and political issues.

The survey further showed that businesses, in addition to NGOs, are seen as effective at creating social change. 

According to results of the survey, family-owned businesses are most trusted, above privately-held, publicly-traded and state-owned businesses. 

Richard Edelman

CANNES, FRANCE – JUNE 20: CEO of Edelman, Richard Edelman attends the Cannes Lions Festival 2017 on June 20, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Francois G. Durand/Getty Images) ((Photo by Francois G. Durand/Getty Images))

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“Trust is local,” Edelman said. “Trust is in ‘my CEO,’ ‘my company,’ ‘my colleagues,’ because I can control that relationship … as opposed to government, [which] I can only elect every four years.” 

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