Trust and the Covid-19 Pandemic

2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update: “… a stunning rise in the public’s trust in government and business. Since January, trust in government has risen nine points and trust in business has risen six points, underscoring the fact that now more than ever, U.S. business must take the lead. This is particularly important because while trust in government has risen sharply in a few short months, the government in the U.S. is still distrusted overall, with approval of only 48%. Overall, business trust has surged to 56% over the same period.

This significant shift in sentiment marks a once-in-a-century moment for business to step forward. This is especially important given the fact that historically our research shows that considerable increases in trust scores are often be followed by losses in trust.

This opportunity for business is particularly important because half of respondents maintain that business needs to take a lead in providing economic relief and support, and 60 percent say that CEOs should take the lead on pandemic response as opposed to waiting for the government to impose it. That said, only 27% say CEOs are doing an outstanding job meeting the demands placed on them by the pandemic.

For corporate leaders, this is a moment of reckoning—and a time for radical transparency. It is imperative for corporate leaders to be open, direct and frequent about the measures they’re taking to balance public health and the economy and protect employee and customer safety. Our survey shows that CEOs have an amazing opportunity to lead their own organizations on this front right now, with a 10 point increase among U.S. respondents since March to tell the truth about the pandemic.

And to understand just how high the stakes are for business leaders to get things right, 54% of U.S. respondents are very concerned about job loss due to the pandemic and not being able to find a new job for a very long time. This occurs at a time when only 37% of U.S. respondents believe business is doing well or very well at protecting their employees’ financial wellbeing and safeguarding their jobs.

Our data also shows that only 41% of Americans think business is doing “well or very well” at ensuring the products and services that people need most are readily available and easily accessible. But the data also shows there is more opportunity for business to offer ingenuity—in the form of new market entrants and strategic pivots. Now is a time for clients to sharpen their strategic planning, in line with the ways Covid-19 is changing their audiences.

Our survey also uncovers a sense of underlying optimism that business leaders must tap into in order to positively transition out of the current situation. As horrible as the pandemic is, 64% of U.S. respondents believe this will lead to valuable innovations and changes for the better in how we live, work and treat each other as people…(More)”