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Young business leaders view trust as critical but lack plans on how to build it with employees: Survey

Close to 3,000 Chief Executives from 115 countries weighed in on this essential to business topic.

Trust is a key matter for business leaders around the world, but there are significant gaps between business leaders’ thoughts and actions Only 40% of chief executives find it easy to build trust with employees Business leaders report that competing priorities (41%) and lack of time (34%) are their biggest obstacles to successfully building/maintaining trust within their businesses

YPO, the global leadership community of more than 28,000 chief executives in 135 countries, conducted a member survey designed to provide the chief executive perspective on the importance of stakeholder trust, the extent to which they are taking action and succeeding at building cultures of trust within their organizations, and their views on the role of societal impact in building trust with stakeholders. 

YPO’s 2020 Global Pulse Survey on Trust, conducted 1-18 November 2019 with 2,960 respondents, found it is a key matter for business leaders around the world, but there are significant gaps between business leaders’ thoughts and actions. Key findings include:

• 96% of chief executives rate building and maintaining trust with stakeholders as a high priority, with close to half (42%) saying that the importance of building trust with stakeholders has increased in the past five years. 

Only 40% of chief executives find it easy to build trust with employees, and they find it even more challenging to do so with their customers (36%). Regionally, US business leaders (39%) struggle more with establishing employee trust than their counterparts in Africa (53%), Middle East (46%) and Europe (43%). 

▪ Business leaders across the globe find it easier to build trust with vendors (48%) and investors (45%). 

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• Even though most global business leaders agree this is high priority issue in which they feel increasing urgency around, over 60% have yet to measure employee trust within their business and only a third (34%) have defined specific plans within their business for building/maintaining employee trust. 

▪ Business leaders in Europe (43%), Canada (41%) and US (39%) are more likely than their counterparts in Middle East (18%) and Asia (30%) to have measured employee trust. 

▪ US (37%) and Latin America (36%) chief executives are the most likely to have a specific plan to build/maintain employee trust compared to chief executives in the Middle East (22%) and Africa (25%). 

Business leaders report that competing priorities (41%) and lack of time (34%) are their biggest obstacles to successfully building/maintaining trust within their businesses. 

Most chief executives understand the weight of their role, with 89% agreeing that they as business leaders are under pressure to embody their organizations’ values through their actions. 
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• 77% of business leaders agree that they are under pressure to take the lead on change, rather than waiting on government to impose it. 

o Nearly a third (27%) of global business leaders agree that they are under 

pressure to take a stance on social and political issues that stakeholders care about. 

o Across the globe, US chief executives (18%) feel the least pressure to 

speak out on political and social issues whereas Latin American (39%), European (36%) and Asian (35%) feel the most pressure. 

Most business leaders (71%) agree that their business can have a positive societal impact; fewer business leaders agree that taking action on societal issues improves employee (56%) or public trust (57%). 

o Business leaders in Latin America (82%) and Australia/New Zealand (79%) feel the strongest about their organizations ability to make an impact; leaders in the Europe (69%) and US (68%) a little less so. 

o Chief executives in the US (40%) and Australia/New Zealand (54%) 

are the least likely to believe that taking action on societal issues improves trust with their employees. Latin American (74%) and European (74%) chief executives are more positive about the effects their societal efforts have on their employee’s trust. 

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