Business, CEOs should do more in coronavirus crisis, Edelman report finds

‘Right now is the moment of reckoning for business’

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The public thinks business leaders should be doing a better job during the coronavirus, according to a new survey.

On Tuesday, marketing consultancy firm Edelman published an update to its Trust Barometer, looking at how the coronavirus has impacted the public’s trust of government, businesses and other institutions.

The report found that overall, trust in government has increased by 11 percent since January 2020 -- making it the most trusted institution for the first time in the study’s 20-year history.

It also found that even though the public’s trust of business has increased, there is “marked disappointment in how the private sector has performed during the crisis,” the Edelman website said.

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“Government is seen as having been very effective in instituting lockdowns, tamping down the incidents of COVID,” Edelman CEO Richard Edelman told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo. “But I think right now is the moment of reckoning for business. It’s the time in the bike race for business to pull out in front and make its own way. Because we have to show people that we can go back to work in a safe and effective way.”

According to the survey, half of respondents think “business is doing poorly, mediocre or completely failing” at putting people before profits and only 43 percent of respondents think companies are doing enough to protect their workers from COVID-19.

But it isn’t just businesses that people are disappointed with.

Only 29 percent of respondents thought CEOs “are doing an outstanding job meeting the demands placed on them by the pandemic.”

CEOs ranked last compared to scientists, national government leaders, global health authorities, local government leaders, heads of NGOs and journalists.

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Richard Edelman said businesses “need to be seen as a force for good.”

“This is the moment of reckoning for business and we have to show that we can go back to work, but not the same way we did before,” he added. “Maybe it's A and B shifts in the beginning, maybe it’s actually if people don’t feel good, don’t come to work. But we have to try to get back to work. We shouldn’t rush it. By three to one, people say let’s focus on safety first. But we do need to try to have business lead this recovery.”

According to the survey, 75 percent of respondents think “CEOs should be conservative in getting back to normal operations, even if it means waiting to bring people back to work until the virus has been brought under control."

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In the U.S., 67 percent of respondents said the government should be more focused on “saving as many lives as possible” even at the risk of hurting the economy and taking longer for it to recover.

“At the moment, there’s a real desire to have a set of products that work against COVID, that show that, in fact, we are protecting our employees, that we are putting people ahead of profits, that we’re going to re-train people instead of going to automation and I believe deeply in the ability of American business to do this,” Richard Edelman said.

“Because, in fact, business has mostly been the most trusted institution in the last year or two and all we have to do is get back to that positive feeling about business actually caring for its workers, caring for its customers, giving products at the right price,” he added.

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