Nearly three quarters of Hong Kongers have no trust in businesses and their CEOs. Only 27% would consider information about a company they heard from a CEO to be extremely or very credible. Globally, 63% of people find CEOs not at all or only somewhat credible.
These are some of the findings of Edelman’s Trust Barometer. The results were gathered through an online survey with over 33,000 responses conducted across 28 countries, including Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia.
CEOs in Singapore and Malaysia did slightly better than those in Hong Kong, with 36% and 40% of respondents in those countries saying they find them credible, respectively.
Globally, the most trusted person to deliver information about a company is an employee, with 60% of respondents considering employees a credible source. Technical (60%) and academic (60%) experts were found equally trustworthy.
In addition to a lack of trust in CEOs, businesses overall are in trouble. Only 52% of respondents said they trust business to do what is right. Additionally, in 13 out of 28 countries, the lack of trust in business is so severe that respondents are eager for business reform.
Businesses in Hong Kong came second to last with regards to having people’s trust. Only 34% of respondents from the city said they trust businesses to do what is right. South Korean businesses scored worst (29%), while Indonesia came out on top (76%). Singapore (58%) and Malaysia (56%) scored just above the global average.
According to Edelman, business is adding to people’s fears and fueling distrust. 60% of survey respondents worries about losing their jobs due to the impacts of globalisation. Additionally, lack of training or skills (60%), jobs moving to cheaper markets (55%) and automation (54%) were indicated as causes for worry.
When asked what actions from businesses would cause the most damage to their trust in a better future, the top five responses were:
- Pay bribes to government official to win contracts
- Pay executives hundreds of times more than workers
- Move profits to other countries to avoid taxes
- Overcharge for products that people need to live
- Reduce costs by lowering product quality
However, three out of four respondents said companies can take actions to both increase profits and improve economic and social conditions in the community where it operates.
With regards to which attributes are most important to building trust in a company, the top five responses were:
- Treats employees well
- Offers high-quality products/services
- Listens to customers
- Pays its fair share of taxes
- Ethical business practices
“Business is the last retaining wall for trust,” said Kathryn Beiser, global chair of Edelman’s corporate practice in a press release.
“Its leaders must step up on the issues that matter for society. It has done a masterful job of illustrating the benefits of innovation but has done little to discuss the impact those advances will have on people’s jobs. Business must also focus on paying employees fairly, while providing better benefits and job training.”
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