According to the Edelman report on global trust, trust in institutions is falling. Distrust is driven by the decreasing trust by the mass population. For example, over half of people surveyed in Canada believe that the "system is not working", and four out of five people believe that the elites who run our institutions are out of touch with regular people.
Disheartening news, to be certain. So what can be done?
Well, the good news is that three quarters of people agree that a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the community where it operates. Here is an immense opportunity for entrepreneurs to bridge the gap between private and public sectors.
Furthermore, Canadian companies rank first worldwide in global trust. So, Canadian companies can leverage that trust, but must act responsibly to maintain that trust.
The report also identifies major areas of improvement that companies need to work on. The major gaps are:
- have (and implement) ethical business practices
- treat employees well
- listen to customer needs and feedback
The future is for institution to work "with the people" and to dissolve institutional silos. By doing so, companies can build trust with the public.
Canada is not immune to the recent rise of populism, the reasons for which are beyond this post. So, what's the "job to be done"?
Firstly, business can no longer be complacent. They must talk openly about important issues like environmental sustainability, reducing poverty, important infrastructure projects, human rights, and other major issues facing us today.
Secondly and related, companies must speak "with" not "at" or "to" their customers and their audiences. They must act transparently and invite dialogue with their customers and the public.
And finally, companies must put the audience at the center of the discussion over self-interest. They must tell audience-centric stories that resonate and serve to increase their trust. Employees are the most credible source of these stories, so they must be empowered to speak openly about the company.
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