People Place More Trust in Business: The E&C Pulse

January 14, 2021
Ben DiPietro

Unsure who to believe, people are turning to business to solve the problems governments are neglecting.

Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer is out, and shows 61% of respondents named business as their most trusted institution, ahead of government, which dropped 11 percentage points from May, to 53%. Business is the only institution that is seen as both competent and ethical.

The swift way business pivoted to remote work, how it handled the changes caused by COVID-19, and how it collaborated to create and produce vaccines in record time, all elevated business. 

Even business couldn’t escape criticism. Edelman found 59% said media deliberately mislead people by offering information they know to be false-57% said the same thing about government, 56% said the same for business.

Social media was trusted by 35%, owned media by 41%, and traditional media by 53%, which saw its trust number fall eight percentage points. People are looking to business to fill the void, with 53% saying corporations need to provide information when the news media doesn’t.

“This is the era of information bankruptcy,” Richard Edelman, the chief executive of Edelman, said in a release. “We’ve been lied to by those in charge, and media sources are seen as politicized and biased. The result is a lack of information and increased divisiveness.”

People are looking to their employers, with 61% saying communications from work are their most trusted source of information, ahead of the national government (58%), traditional media (57%), and social media (39%).

“The events of this past year reinforced business’ responsibility to lead on societal issues, such as upskilling workers and racial justice,” said Edelman. 


                                                                                                        BEN DIPIETRO


A look at some ways employers are using technology to track employees.

Companies pulled support for lawmakers who challenged the U.S. election results, but should they get credit for abandoning the president now?

Black police officers at the Capitol describe what it was like facing off against the mostly white insurrectionist mob. (Note: strong language.)

People who participated in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol are facing repercussions in their personal lives from employers and others. A look at the influence of the far right in law enforcement. 

The change in U.S. presidential administrations is leading to hope the switch will lead to more money for environmental and socially beneficial projects.

Boeing will pay $2.5 billion to settle charges related to its 737-MAX engine failures. Deutsche Bank will pay more than $100 million to delay bribery charges.

Former LRN Principled Podcast guest Paul Zak is out with new research on the neuroscience of trust and its link to business performance.

Alison Taylor and Jonathan Haidt of Ethical Systems say, if 2020 taught us anything, it's that leaders need to learn how to lead differently.

A study predicts the Amazon rainforest will collapse by 2064.

Organizations slammed because their leaders traveled during the COVID lockdown need better risk management policies to ensure such incidents don't occur. 

Lisa Schor Babin writes about the importance of having an ethical czar.

About the Author

Ben DiPietro

Joined LRN in October 2018 after 30 years as a journalist, including seven years at The Wall Street Journal, including Risk & Compliance Journal and was a creator of the WSJ Crisis of the Week column. In 2015 was named one of the 100 most influential people in business ethics by Ethisphere Institute. Spent 14 years as a reporter in Hawaii, 11 with The Associated Press.

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