We are all talking about lack of trust in business but we’re not doing much about it.
CEO’s are now officially untrustworthy. Fewer than one third of the public believes they are credible.
In the Edelman Trust Survey, in every one of 28 global markets researched, trust in CEOs has plummeted.
In a world where social media rules supreme, the most trusted source of information about a company is a regular employee.
Even though 68 per cent of the public can’t name one CEO, they still think they are a dodgy bunch.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is the best known.
Steve Jobs is second ranked – even though he has been dead for a while. The third best know is Bill Gates.
Half of those polled believe CEOs can’t relate to ordinary people. Two thirds think they are too focussed on the short term. Fifty three per cent think the current system of business is failing.
The Big Four Issues with Business
Corruption in business; the pace of innovation; tax avoidance; and globalisation are all seen as frightening. Yet the great contradiction is that 75% of the public say that CEOs are the key people to fix it all and are relying on them – not politicians – to improve social and economic conditions.
So, where did it all go wrong ? Some argue that we have had three recent eras of CEOs. The 1990s were marked by the celebrity CEO – such as Richard Branson, Lord Sugar and Donald Trump himself. All were fond of a photgraph with a hot air balloon or a fast car. (I strongly advise against any such vulgar activities).
The second era came after the crash. Chief Executives became low profile. Faceless and nameless as they hunkered in their bunkers.
Now we see a third era emerging – the era of the engaged CEO.
What is the new era for CEOs?
CEOs of today are more prepared to tackle societal issues. Customers look to them to put the planet and people before profit.
They need to do this to rebuild trust. The public is sending corporate leaders a fascinating message. “You are not trusted. Yet we want you to lead us to a better way of doing business”.
CEOs are now expected to be radical on tackling environmental concerns. They are expected to champion a purpose way beyond their sphere of operating. They are urged to take event stronger stances on tackling corruption; and they must go about engaging their people and customers in a way that would not have been imagined in previous generations.
It’s time for CEOs to speak out. The people expect it.