POSITIVE REPUTATION AND PUBLIC TRUST RELY ON VOCAL CEOS AND ENVIRONMENTAL COMMS, DATA SHOWS
Business strategy and communications consultancy, BOLDT, has released data from its trust and ESG reputation research, as collected by analysis partner, Mettle Capital. The research shows that public trust in European businesses has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, but US counterparts are falling behind.
The analysis was based on data collected from the public domain of 2,500 companies in Europe and the US. Over 40 million conversations and pieces of information were analysed to assess current attitudes, actions, and behaviours. Companies were also ranked in terms of sentiment and levels of public trust.
Jon Rhodes, BOLDT Partner, says, “Our ‘big data’ approach enables us to analyse actual actions and attitudes to businesses during 2021 – what people really did and said. This is different; not just another survey collating post facto reflections. It can deliver acute insights for determining communications strategy and understanding what matters most in communicating ESG factors.”
The findings show that trust in business has returned to 2019 levels, with European corporate trust on par with or exceeding US firms. The highest levels of trust were achieved by those businesses that best adapted to the challenges created by Covid-19.
The top 3 most trusted companies in Europe were Deutsche Post in the transportation sector, Logitech International in the technology and communications sector, and Schneider Electric in the resources transformation sector. In each of the top 10 ranked companies, the CEO was a significant asset.
CEOs were far more central to positive reputation and sentiment than in previous years. “Businesses have generally rebuilt trust that was lost in the first year of the pandemic, but their actions and their leaders are now more in the frame as they navigate change,” says Rhodes.
For stakeholders to maintain trust in business during the pandemic, many CEOs were required to communicate more publicly on a regular basis. Conveying business efforts to continue operations despite stretched supply chains and challenging environments directly strengthened corporate reputation.
Those firms that were more active and vocal on environmental issues were shown to build greater trust in 2021, particularly in the latter half of the year surrounding COP26. Inauthentic sustainability communications or ‘greenwashing’ was shown to be the biggest driver of falling sentiment and trust.
Other public concerns included privacy and data which may impact business reputations as internal and external stakeholders rely on robust digital safety measures, particularly in the tech and financial services sectors.
“The data shows that businesses which are rebuilding trust require well-respected CEOs, honest communication about the issues they face in a challenging environment, and the ability to deliver solutions to those problems,” adds Dr Andrew Tucker, Mettle co-founder and chief data scientist.