Despite the tumbling loonie and oil price meltdown, companies headquartered in Canada are the most trusted in the world – but Canadian CEOs still have a lot of work to do on the credibility front here at home, says a new Edelman study.
In fact Canadians’ faith in four key institutions including business, media, government and NGOs (non-government organizations) has soared to its highest level in five years, according to the international marketing firm’s 16th annual ‘Trust Barometer’.
The report, released Wednesday, found Canadian businesses are now tied with those in Switzerland and Sweden for the top spot globally, a bump up from second place in 2015.
Meanwhile more than one-third of the population is optimistic about its prospects over the next five years along with 50 per cent of so-called informed consumers, says the study, which attributes the results in part to the honeymoon phase of the newly-elected Liberal government in Ottawa.
“We’re dubbing the rebound in trust and optimism the ‘Trudeau Effect’ because the study was done in the immediate aftermath of the federal election and indicates a sense of exuberance among Canadians,” said Lisa Kimmel, president, Edelman Canada.
She said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s more collaborative and transparent leadership approach than his predecessor Stephen Harper offers Canadian corporate leaders “a playbook of qualities to emulate.”
The study revealed that trust in business rose 13 points among the Canadian “informed public” and five points among the overall general population.
“That surprised me that the numbers are going up” given the current state of the economy and depressed commodity prices, said John Thornton, Barrick Gold Corp.’s board chairman. Thornton was on a panel at the Royal Ontario Museum discussing the implications of the study.
He said Canadian mining companies have the most opportunity to build consumer and investor trust since they operate in most areas of the world to extract resources.
However just 29 per cent of those surveyed said CEOs are fairly paid relative to their workforce, while only 28 per cent agreed that “they can relate to people like me.”
Seventy-three per cent of Canadian respondents said these top executives are too focused on short-term results such as share price while 42 per cent could even name one chief executive of a domestic company.
“People want their leaders to be just like them,” noted panelist Mark Wiseman, chief executive of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
Meanwhile all forms of media except for social media enjoyed an increase in trust since last year, with traditional media (newspapers, TV, magazines and radio) continuing to hold the highest level of trust, says the study.
It found 66 per cent of Canadians trust traditional media compared to search engines (58 per cent), online-only media (50 per cent) and social media (31 per cent).
Despite traditional media sources holding the lion’s share of public trust, print sources fall behind search engines, TV and social media as the most frequently used sources for news and information. But Canadians ranked social media lowest with respect to how much they actually trust it.