Regaining Trust Mixes Patience, Owning Mistakes and Authentic Communication

While a few crises never seem to end, often with good reason, companies and organizations eventually need to return to relatively normal footing. That’s when a priority for communicators is helping regain external and internal trust.

Public trust in “my employer” rose during the pandemic, as did trust in business generally, according to Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer.

Yet, what constitutes trust is a vast topic. And, as you’d expect, there are diverging opinions.

An August PwC survey of 500 U.S. executives, 800 employees and 1,000 consumers found the three groups agreeing the word trust prompts thoughts of: data protection and cybersecurity, treating employees well, ethical business practices and admitting mistakes. Beyond that, there was little agreement (see chart).


Trust: Agreement and Divergence

In a recent PwC survey about trust concerns:

•    “Data privacy” and “cybersecurity” were the most-named trust concerns by executives (70%) and consumers (62%)

•    A majority (52%) of consumers and execs named “ethical business practices”

•    46% of employees and execs named “admitting to mistakes quickly and honestly,” yet 49% of consumers did

•    “Responsible AI” was named by 27% of consumers and employees, but 43% of execs

Source: PwC, Trust in US Business, Sept 2021, (1,000 consumers, 870 employees, 503 executives)


Yet the importance of trust seems undeniable. PwC chief Tim Ryan tells Fortune CEO Alan Murray, in a video, that trust emerged as the top item following a two-year conversation his firm had with clients. How to get more of it with all stakeholders was a major concern.


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