Monday 23 April 2018

Edelman Trust Barometer Demonstrates Business + Social Purpose = Increased Trust


For more than two decades, Edelman has been at the vanguard of helping leading brands and corporations create lasting connections between business and social issues from Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty to Starbucks’ Shared Planet and GE’s ecomagination. This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer clearly demonstrates that combining business and social purpose is the clear path forward to building trust and engagement. Corporate social responsibility programs, like those mentioned above which become part of the company’s DNA, help achieve more prosperous communities, increased trust, behaviour change, employee engagement and commercial success.

Globalisation, the power of social media, and priorities ranging from the environment to human health are forcing corporations, brands and non-profit organisations to reexamine their businesses and how they engage consumers, partners and stakeholders. The longstanding concept of “giving back” is being supplanted by the perspective that business is driven by purpose as much as by profit.

We define Purpose as a higher goal for an organisation or brand that goes beyond profit to inspire a greater commitment among stakeholders.  In this year’s Trust Barometer, 73% of Australians said it is important for companies to address society’s needs without sacrificing shareholder returns.

Purpose looks necessarily different for each company, industry and market: its greatest impact is achieved when led by the “C” suite and when institutional will, creativity, multi-stakeholder engagement and a long-term commitment are demonstrated.

Reflecting the current debate about the nature of responsible capitalism, this year’s Trust Barometer survey found that to be trusted, business needs to do more than succeed commercially. 74 per cent of Australians say companies should be involved in solving social and environmental problems.

The Study also examined various factors that will build trust in a company which reflect this desired role for business. Top of the list of trust-building attributes for Australians:

  • Listening to customer needs and feedback (70 per cent)
  • Having ethical business practices (69 per cent), along with delivering quality products (69 per cent)
  • Placing the customer ahead of profits (68 per cent)
  • Treat its employees well (67 per cent).

The public expects business to do more than just make money and create jobs. They expect business to improve the world it operates in, act ethically, treat employees well and help local communities. Trust, built upon both operational and societal performance, is the clear mandate for optimal business success.  It’s a shift that business must make from a license to operate – to a license to lead.

We look forward to guiding our clients on this path toward enhanced trust and leadership.


-Kate Ferguson

  • Rachael Vincent

    Fabulous. It’s so exciting to see this work emerging. We at Social Leadership Australia have been teaching an approach to leadership which combines the Harvard Adaptive Leadership model with social purpose since 2002. We hope more businesses start to realise potential of this model for them in 2012.