What is the purpose of this article?
- To ask you to take action to assess and improve the degree of trust people have in your board of directors, CEO, and C-Suite.
- You may download a PDF of this article from: Society’s trust in corporate leadership and political leadership is low V2
What are the critical learnings in this article?
- The majority of people believe government and business leaders purposefully try to mislead people.
- 40% of the American public believes problems with their social institutions cannot be fixed and to just “let them burn”.
- Approximately half of young American ages18 to 29 believe that both the Democrats and Republicans care more about serving the interests of the elite rather than those of young Americans.
- Globally, 64% of people disagreed with the statement “Most elected officials care what people like me think”.
How many people trust CEO, business leaders, and the government?
The 2022 Edelman Global Trust Barometer1 has disturbing statistics:
- 52% of people agree capitalism as it exists today does more harm than good.
- 85% of people worry about job loss.
- 57% experience prejudice or racism.
- 66% believe government leaders are purposefully trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggeration. 63% feel the same way about business leaders.
- 42% trust government leaders.
- 48% believe government is a dividing force in society.
- 81% believe CEOs should be personally visible when discussing public policy with external stakeholders or work their company has done to benefit society.
- 60% of employees agree with the statement “When considering a job, I expect the CEO to speak publicly about controversial social and political issues that I care about.”
The 2022 Edelman Canadian Trust Barometer2 show Canada is similar to the rest of the world.
- 48% of people agree capitalism as it exists today does more harm than good.
- 34% of Canadians believe they and their families will be better off in 5 years time,
- 74% of people worry about job loss.
- 42% experience prejudice or racism.
- 58% believe government leaders are purposefully trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggeration. 60% feel that way about business leaders. 61% feel that way about journalists and reporters.
- 43% trust government leaders. 36% trust CEOs.
- 45% believe government is a dividing force in society.
- 78% believe CEOs should be personally visible when discussing public policy with external stakeholders or work their company has done to benefit society.
- 54% of employees agree with the statement “When considering a job, I expect the CEO to speak publicly about controversial social and political issues that I care about”
How many Americans believe that their political institutions should be burned to the ground?
6 surveys done in 2018 by Professors Michael Bang Petersen, Mathias Osmundsen, and Kevin Arceneaux3 revealed:
- 24% of the American public agreed “society should be burned to the ground”
- 40% of the American public agreed “we cannot fix the problems in our social institutions we need to tear them down and start over” and “when it comes to our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking ‘just let them all burn’”.
- Key findings include: people are so discontent that they do not care about truth; people deliberately share false and hostile rumours on social media with the goal ”to mobilize the audience in pursuit of chaos.”
What are some key findings from Harvard’s Spring 2022 survey of U.S. youth, 18-29 years of age4
- 49% of young Americans believe that things in the nation are off on the wrong track. 13% say they are heading in the right direction.
- 39% of young Americans believe the Democratic party cares more about serving the interests of the elite. Only 28% believe the Democratic party is serving the interests of young Americans.
- 51% of young Americans believe the Republican party cares more about serving the interests of the elite. Only 21% believe the Republican party is serving the interests of young Americans.
- Among likely young voters, 74% of Democrats and 68% of Republicans saw the other party as a threat to democracy.
- 59% of young Black Americans believe people of their racial background are under “a lot” of attack.
- 70% of young Democrats were supportive of political candidates who support teaching K-12 students that racism is a fixture of American laws and institutions. 23% of young Republicans were supportive of those candidates.
- 52% of young Americans reported feeling ”down, depressed, or hopeless” in the past two weeks.
- 24% of young Americans reported having thoughts at least several times in the past two weeks that they would be “better off dead” or of “hurting themselves”.
What are some key findings from the Pew Research Center’s Global Public Opinion survey regarding democracy, published December 7,20215
This report contains findings from several surveys.
- Does the political system need to be completed reformed? 42% of Americans said yes, and 8% of Canadians.
- Does the political system need major changes? 43% of Americans said yes, and 39% of Canadians.
- The political system doesn’t need to be changed. 2% of Americans said yes, and 12% of Canadians.
- In eight of the 17 countries, roughly half or more of those polled say the political system needs major changes or a complete overhaul andsay they have little or no confidence the system can be changed effectively.
- Globally, 78% felt representative democracy was a good way to govern their country. 49% believed that having experts make decisions rather than elected officials would be good. 26% felt having strong leader the decisions would be good.
- The % of people who felt the following was very important to have in the country: a fair judiciary 82%; Regular elections 65%; free speech 64%; press freedom 64% opposition parties can operate freely 54%.
- 89% – not including the U.S. – say discrimination against groups based on their race or ethnicity is a serious problem in the U.S.
- Just 17% consider American democracy a good model for other countries to follow. A median of 57% think it used to be a good example but has not been in recent years. About a quarter say the U.S. has never been a good example. The belief that democracy in the U.S. has never been a good model for other nations is especially common among young adults.
- Median of 64% disagreed with the statement “most elected officials care what people like me think.
My personal observation
- If people believe their interests are not being looked after by institutions and society, then the sense of frustration can lead to tearing them down. I wonder if politicians, CEOs, and boards of directors understand the long-term implications of their deliberate or accidental actions to destroy the public’s trust in them.
- The 2021 Jan 6 United States Capital attack and the 2022 February Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, Canada are examples of the outcomes of large parts of the population not trusting their leaders.
What are your next steps?
- Conduct an anonymous survey of your board of directors, CEO, and C-Suite to learn their perception of: the degree to which others (including their employees) trust them.
- Survey employees and other members of your company’s ecosystem, learn the degree of trust in the board of directors, CEO, and C-Suite.
- Determine if your board of directors, CEO, and C-Suite believe it is urgent to improve trust. The question to consider is: “Can your company be successful in the long-term in a society where people don’t trust government leaders, business leaders, or your company leaders?”
- Think about what actions you and your company can take to improve the trust that the public has in our political and government leaders.
What further reading should you do?
- Read each of the 5 articles in the footnotes below, to understand further details regarding the lack of trust and the perceived issues with capitalism and democracy.
1 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer – global report
2 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer – Canada
3 Professors Michael Bang Petersen, Mathias Osmundsen, and Kevin Arceneaux “A ‘Need for Chaos’ and the Sharing of Hostile Political Rumors in Advanced Democracies”. In 2019 won the award for best paper in the Political Psychology division of the American Political Science Association.