The Edelman 2009 Trust Barometer is out and — no surprise — the business scandals of 2008 have led to the sharpest decline of trust in corporations over the 10 year history of the study.
How to repair? Well, first and foremost I’d say, “Do the right thing.” But According to the Trust Barometer, communicating frequently and honesty on the state of business is in third place behind offering quality products and services and treating employees well. So clearly engagement in social media represents a major opportunity for corporations to win back trust. Indeed, I would revise the statement to say, “Engage frequently and honestly in open dialogue on the state of the business and the concerns of stakeholders,” as this would be even more effective.
The trust debacle has happened mainly in the established economies of North America, Western Europe and Australia, and generally across all industries. Not surprisingly, perhaps, trust in business is on the rise in emerging markets like Brazil, China and India.
Recommendations from Edelman for rebuilding trust echo some of the perspectives presented in my last post, “A Hippocratic oath for managers — is it an idea whose time has come?” Below are some excerpts from Edelman’s executive summary:
Business must partner with governments and NGOs to address key policy issues and the world’s most pressing problems, not merely the ones that impact their bottom line.
Companies must realign their business practices so they deliver dual objectives: benefit society and the bottom line.
Okay. I guess Edelman is also saying, “Do the right thing.”