Why the Midwest is a curious outlier when it comes to trusting businesses

INDONESIAKININEWS.COM -  Poll after poll lately reflects that American faith in common good and democracy has been shaken.  But there’s one ...

INDONESIAKININEWS.COM - Poll after poll lately reflects that American faith in common good and democracy has been shaken. 

But there’s one institution that U.S. citizens still trust today, and that’s the corporation, according to results from the latest Edelman Trust Barometer. 

Released on Friday, the update to Edelman’s closely followed report found that while other social institutions—the government, the media, nonprofits—desperately need to re-earn the public’s trust, people feel pretty good about what Corporate America has been up to recently.

However, this year’s Trust Barometer does have one seemingly curious outlier: the Midwest region, where respondents expressed the absolute lowest amount of trust in corporations (a borderline-passing score of 51). 

The finding, Edelman joked, adds “additional color to the headlines around loss in livelihood for Midwestern manufacturing and hospitality workers.” 

Midwesterners had the highest expectations that businesses will do good for local communities, the lowest amount of satisfaction in what businesses accomplish, and the most skepticism about future commitments from businesses.

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Alongside the distrust comes more demand. Asked who ought to be a “high priority” when companies make business decisions, only 52% of Midwesterners said the business owners and shareholders should be. 

A solid 73% picked the customers (versus 68% among the U.S. population at large) and 70% said the workers (versus 65% among the broader population).


So, what’s eating the Midwest? Besides union support being historically strong, the region has also recently seen lots of manufacturing jobs get outsourced. 

Some may blame government-policy failures, while others may curse boardroom business strategies. 

But either way, the result could be that Midwestern workers are particularly keen to blame government officials and corporations in equal measure.

This thesis seemingly holds up elsewhere in the report, when Edelman breaks down Americans’ institutional trust by income. 

Trust among wealthy Americans is at an all-time high; but among low-income earners, it’s hardly budged over the past decade. 

The gap, in other words, widens each year: In 2012, 49% of high-income earners (the top 25%) said they trusted companies, the government, nonprofits, and the media, while 43% of low-income earners (the bottom 25%) agreed. 

This year, it was a record 62% of high-income earners, but just 47% of low-income earners—a 15-point gap.

Since last year, Corporate America’s trust score climbed from 54 to 55. The government’s score went from 42 to 45 (still sub-50, so firmly in “distrust” territory); the nonprofit world’s went from 50 to 51; and findings show that the media’s score stayed at a dismayingly low 45.

Edelman’s survey has for years been chronicling a national shift toward an expectation that businesses will lead the charge on social issues. 

But this time, the PR firm’s poll—2,000 people in all 50 states, in collaboration with Harvard’s Institute for the Study of Business in Global Society—suggests that the perception of what companies are perceived to be doing is catching up to what they’re expected to be doing.

Chalk it up as a marketing victory, perhaps. The bonanza of companies advertising CSR and ESG makeovers—the position that profits aren’t the be-all and end-all while there are social injustices to address and a planet to save—may have helped the public to reimagine businesses as a tool to effect change, even as their hope in other institutions keeps decaying. 

But Edelman’s survey suggests that, for better or worse, businesses may have raised a high bar for themselves: Beyond mere economic responsibilities (creating jobs, growing the economy, and the like), 77% of Americans now believe companies also have social responsibilities (tackling climate change, addressing discrimination)—and 6 in 10 believe companies now even have geopolitical responsibilities, such as punishing nations that violate human rights.

Source: fastcompany


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IndonesiaKiniNews.com: Why the Midwest is a curious outlier when it comes to trusting businesses
Why the Midwest is a curious outlier when it comes to trusting businesses
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