This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer provides a lot of encouragement for companies pursuing stronger environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards.
Informed by an online survey of 32,000 respondents across 28 countries, Edelman found that business was the only institution seen as both competent and ethical by respondents, with a 20 point increase in the ethics rating for business recorded between its 2020 and 2023 surveys.
In a world of increasing distrust of government and media, particularly among lower income earners, business is now the most trusted institution, with respondents having most faith in the organisations they work for.
The importance of strong ESG performance to employee and customer attraction was also identified by Edelman, with 69 per cent of respondents saying having societal impact is a strong expectation or deal breaker when considering a job, and 63 per cent saying they bought or advocated for brands based on their beliefs and values.
While the perception of business has improved remarkably in recent years, Edelman also identified that the community expects more. Despite some of the recent pushback against ESG businesses, including by republican governors in the United States, an overwhelming majority of Edelman respondents said they wanted more societal engagement from business, not less.
Unsurprisingly, greater action on climate change was at the top of the list.
This article also appeared in The West Australian newspaper.