June 21, 2022
Companies believe consumers and employees trust them far more than they actually do because executives misinterpret what moves the needle on trust, according to PwC’s 2022 Consumer Intelligence Series survey Survey on Trust”.
The study find business leaders focused on social issues such as ESG (environmental, social and governance), with 50% of leaders strongly agreeing that their companies invest in and champion social and racial equity . By comparison, only 27% of consumers think companies that invest in social and racial equity are more trustworthy.
Other areas where leaders are not aligned with consumers and employees on trust:
- Forty-five percent of businesses think new climate information will help build customer confidence, compared to 23% of consumers who agree. Forty-seven percent of companies believe that disclosing climate risks builds employee confidence, compared to 33% of employees who agree.
- Forty-five percent of executives focus on transparent communications to build trust with both stakeholder groups. Only 13% of consumers and 19% of employees consider this a priority.
The study found “everyday realities” require more attention in determining trust in societies.
When asking consumers what boosts business trust, the top three responses were: affordable products/services, 34%; treats employees well, 33%; and a variety of high quality products/services. Good corporate citizenship ranked sixth, at 20%.
Ask employees what builds business confidence, the top three responses were: treat employees well, 47%; provides a variety of high quality products/services, 22%; and leadership admits mistakes quickly and honestly, 21%. Good corporate citizenship was fourth, at 20%.
Overall, 87% of business leaders think consumers have a high level of trust in their business, compared to just 30% of consumers who say so. Eight to four percent of business leaders say employee confidence is high, compared to 69 percent of employees.
Although several studies carried out in recent years have revealed that consumers prefer companies that are committed to sustainability and take public positions on social issues, a YouGov from August 2021 study found that a majority of global consumers (62%) prioritize product or service price when considering buying from a retailer, with only 25% prioritizing retailer values.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think builds trust in companies among consumers and employees? How does corporate social responsibility play a role in building trust, and is it often overrated?
“Trust is part of authenticity. If companies operate from their brand core rather than research insights, they will be respected and trusted.”