Trust in business continues to rise

May 20, 2021, 10:10 AM UTC

Good morning.

Public trust in business around the world remains high, according to the latest release of the Edelman Trust Barometer, out this morning. (CEO Daily got an early peek.) But high trust comes with high expectations. And satisfying those expectations won’t be easy.

The survey, which was taken the first week in May and included almost 17,000 people in 14 countries, found trust in business had risen from the first poll of the year, boosted by the pandemic experience, and remained higher than trust in NGOs, government, or the media. “My employer” ranked even higher than business in general. Majorities in every country agreed that “our country will not be able to overcome our challenges without business involvement.” Upwards of 30% in each country said the pandemic “has led me to believe this is true.”

Employees expect their employers to take action on a variety of pressing social problems. Top of the list were vaccine hesitancy (84%), climate change (81%), automation (79%), the “infodemic” (79%), and racism (79%).  Respondents were less enthusiastic about CEOs getting involved in “political issues.” In the U.S. and India, in particular, more people said CEOs were “too involved” in political issues than said they were “not involved enough.”

“Business must lead on areas of comparative advantage—retraining, skills development, innovation—and it must continue to take meaningful action on societal issues from sustainability to racial justice, starting with getting its own house in order,” wrote CEO Richard Edelman.  “But it must resist the temptation to be the A student doing all the work on the group project because Government is slacking. As in The Odyssey, Business must steer a course between the Scylla of complacency and the Charybdis of over-reach. Navigating these roiling waters will surely require adjustments and course corrections, but there is no time to waste to help a shaken world regain its bearings.”

You can read the full Edelman report here. More news below.

Alan Murray


Bitcoin bounce

Bitcoin and its crypto-brethren are still heading north after yesterday's head-spinning rout-turned-recovery (the chaos of which also featured outages at mega-exchanges Binance and Coinbase). At the time of publication, Bitcoin is hovering around the $40,000 mark again. Evening Standard

TikTok chief

ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming will step down as CEO of the TikTok maker at the end of the year, to be replaced by co-founder and HR chief (and former college roommate) Liang Rubo. Zhang: "The truth is, I lack some of the skills that make an ideal manager…I’m more interested in analyzing organizational and market principles." His move comes as ByteDance considers an IPO, and as Beijing applies pressure to China's Big Tech executives. Reuters

EU and China

The European Parliament will today vote on whether to formally freeze the EU's putative investment agreement with China, following Chinese sanctions on EU lawmakers who backed human-rights sanctions on Chinese officials. The draft motion reportedly calls on the EU to step up coordination with the U.S. regarding China. Politico

Israel ethics

Norway's $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund has excluded two companies for their participation in the building of Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The fund said it received advice from the Council of Ethics saying there was an "unacceptable risk" that Shapir Engineering and Industry and Mivne Real Estate "contribute to systematic violations of individuals’ rights in situations or war or conflict". Fortune


Ransom reasoning

Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount has explained why he authorized the payment of a $4.4 million ransom to cybercriminals who attacked the fuel pipeline manager. Blount: "I know that’s a highly controversial decision. I didn’t make it lightly. I will admit that I wasn’t comfortable seeing money go out the door to people like this. But it was the right thing to do for the country." Wall Street Journal

March of automation

Compared to pre-pandemic times, the U.S. is now producing around the same amount of goods and services with 8.2 million fewer workers. In Q1, business spending on equipment outstripped overall economic growth more than twofold. Washington Post

Fortnite revenue

To give an idea of the kind of money that's at stake in the war over Apple's revenue cut, the head of App Store business development for gaming testified yesterday that Apple generated over $100 million in revenue from Epic Games' Fortnite, which was available in the iOS app repository from 2018 to 2020. Other estimates have put Apple's share at more than $350 million. Fortune

Raghavan interview

Wired has the first big interview with the guy who effectively runs Google, SVP Prabhakar Raghavan. He's in charge of search, ads, commerce, maps, payments, and Google assistant. "In my view the problem of search is not solved," says the engineer turned exec. "I remember one of the very first things that Larry Page said to me many, many years ago: Search is not going to be a solved problem. I've been pondering that since then." Wired

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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