A challenge for business leaders: aim to build confidence and trust by communicating as a “beacon of truth”

Do your target audiences trust your organization? Do your stakeholders have confidence in leadership?

According to the new Confidence in Leaders Report by Environics Institute for Survey Research, the number of Canadians who have confidence in business leaders has declined substantially over the past 17 years, falling to 42% this year.

This decline in confidence in business leaders is greater than that of government and political leaders.

This isn’t a reassuring trend given that stakeholder trust and confidence contribute critical value to organizations. The World Economic Forum says that trusted companies enjoy significantly higher rates of customer and employee loyalty, public engagement and shareholder support.

Yet securing stakeholder trust and confidence is more difficult than ever today. The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer: Navigating a Polarized World points out that people expect the private sector to lead because they don’t see the government or media as reliable sources of trustworthy information. 

Edelman contends that business has a critical role to serve in the information ecosystem. “People want more, not less, communication on societal issues from businesses. They want to hear businesses actually engage on initiatives relating to climate change, economic inequality, and workforce reskilling. Why? Because it addresses the fears they have about their own environments, and it gives certainty in an uncertain world. Additionally, it helps paint a picture of the company they’re planning to interact with. These things matter to them.”

Given that communication is an essential tool for building trust and confidence, Edelman proposes that business should be “a beacon of truth.” This requires ensuring  the integrity of content by communicating only trustworthy information that  is balanced, based on sound science and accurate facts.

Sounds like trustworthy advice to act on.