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NEW YORK: January 20, 2016. Global PR and marketing firm Edelman says its latest survey on trust, covering 33,000 people in 28 countries, shows businesses have the best opportunity to bridge a growing gap between the informed and uninformed.

According to Edelman results from its 16th annual survey, released during the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, suggest respondents view business (61 percent) as the institution most trusted to keep pace with rapid change, far more than they do government (41 percent) and NGOs (55 percent).

WEF Davos 2016Business is also significantly more trusted than government in 21 of 28 countries, with large gaps in South Africa (44 points), Mexico (44 points) and the U.S. (12 points). And 80 percent believe companies can increase profits while improving the economic and social conditions in the communities in which they operate.

Edelman said the public is also responding positively to CEOs trying to realize "the dual mandate of profit and societal benefit", as CEO trust has risen substantially in the past five years to 48 percent. But respondents are more likely to trust an employee compared to a CEO for information on treatment of their peers (48 percent versus 19 percent) and information on business practices and crises (30 percent versus 27 percent).

“Business can be a big part of the solution because it is apolitical, fast, and tracks its progress,” explained Kathryn Beiser, global practice chair of Edelman’s corporate practice. “Now is the time to lead from the front with the support of their employees and passionate customers. No longer can business leaders focus on short-term goals. The new model CEOs are taking action by addressing the issues of our time, and taking a personal interest in the success of society. Stakeholders expect business to have a solid and steady focus on financial returns, but also on actions around key issues such as education, healthcare and the environment.”

The Edelman results also indicate respondents want to see CEOs shift from short-term results and lobbying, to job creation (49 percent) and positive long-term impact (57 percent).

With government remaining the least trusted institution for the fifth year running according to the survey, Richard Edelman, company president and CEO noted: “We are now observing the inequality of trust around the world. This brings a number of potential consequences including the rise of populist politicians, the blocking of innovation and the onset of protectionism and nativism.”

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