business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Edelman is out with its annual Trust Barometer, concluding that the "epidemic of misinformation and widespread mistrust of societal institutions and leaders around the world" has left four major institutions - business, government, NGOs and media - "in an environment of information bankruptcy and a mandate to rebuild trust and chart a new path forward."

What's interesting about this, for MNB's purposes, is how business is seen in the broader landscape:

"While the world seems to be clouded by mistrust and misinformation, there is a glimmer of hope in business. This year’s study shows that business is not only the most trusted institution among the four studied, but it is also the only trusted institution with a 61 percent trust level globally, and the only institution seen as both ethical and competent.

"When the government is absent, people clearly expect business to step in and fill the void, and the high expectations of business to address and solve today’s challenges has never been more apparent. The heightened expectations of business bring CEOs new demands to focus on societal engagement with the same rigor, thoughtfulness, and energy used to deliver on profits."

Some fascinating numbers:

•  86 percent of people surveyed said they expect CEOs to lead on societal issues.

•  68 percent said they believe CEOs should step in when government does not fox societal problems.

"Trust," Edelman writes, "remains the most important currency in lasting relationships between the four institutions studied and their various stakeholders. Particularly in times of turbulence and volatility, trust is what holds society together and where growth rebuilds and rebounds. Every institution must play its part in restoring society and emerging from information bankruptcy … Business must embrace its expanded mandate and expectations, with CEOs leading on a range of familiar and unfamiliar issues. It's important to take meaningful action first and then communicate about it."

I am reminded of a Latin proverb to which I have referred numerous times over the years:

Trust, like the soul, never returns once it goes.

For retailers, the trust of consumers is the most important currency … it makes everything else possible.  For retail leaders, engendering and sustaining that trust may be their most important charge.

We've seen different forms of that in recent days.  We had a story about it yesterday, referencing an Axios story about how "CEOs became the 4th branch of government."

And that's the Eye-Opener.