Inflation is at an all-time high, and inequality has been steadily climbing since the 1980s and doesn’t look like it’s going to come back down anytime soon. Given this climate, it’s hard to imagine that trust in companies is flourishing.
It’s not, according to PwC, which surveyed 500 business executives, 2,508 consumers, and 2,012 employees in late February to understand the state of trust in business. Overall, the survey showed a large trust gap that is not budging—because while everyone agrees trust is important, people seem to have different definitions of what makes or breaks trust.
Here are the key findings:
- Everyone agrees trust is important: 91% of business leaders, 92% of consumers, and 94% of employees agree that organizations need to build trust. Over half of consumers say that they recommend companies they trust to family and friends, while 64% of employees say they recommend their employers as places to work because of trust.
- Yet, leaders overestimate how much they are trusted: 84% of business leaders think customers highly trust their company, yet only 27% of customers say this. Meanwhile, 79% of executives think their employees trust their company, but only 65% of employees say the same. This trust gap has persisted from PwC’s earlier report in June 2022.
- The trust gap is a result of different definitions of what breaks trust: 50% of consumers and 54% of employees report experiencing a trust-damaging event, compared to only 20% of executives. PwC’s recent report found this to be because they don’t agree on what a trust-damaging event is. Executives define it as something that makes the headlines—15% say security was a trust-damaging issue, and 11% cite legal and compliance issues. However, 36% of consumers point to bad experiences with customer service, causing 63% of these consumers to walk away from a company. Meanwhile, 33% of employees report experiencing bias or mistreatment, and over half of them left their company, saying they no longer trusted it.
“Earning trust comes down to understanding what’s important to your stakeholders at any given moment in time,” wrote the report’s authors.
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