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Public Affairs Insights from the Centre


9 Feb 2012

License to lead

George Onisiforou

Edelman released the 2012 results of its annual Trust Barometer study this week, unveiling good news for the business world. The study consists of surveys of the general public in 25 countries, and focuses on perceptions about trust and credibility in business, government, NGO and media institutions.

Globally, the 2012 study shows a significant decrease in trust in governments. While trust in business has remained steady (a good result given the continuous uncertain financial environment), government’s performance places its credibility and clout below business, and at a disadvantage in influencing and managing public affairs.

This condition gives businesses an opportunity to step up from earning just ‘licence to operate’ towards gaining ‘license to lead’. Such an admirable position would place businesses at the driver’s seat for economic and social growth and prosperity, minimising any hindrances from government regulation or public resistance to their operations.

However, to earn ‘license to lead’, businesses will need to address and improve their performance on the public’s most important trust attributes. These include listening to customer needs and feedback, treating employees well, placing customers ahead of profits, having ethical business practices, and taking actions to address issues and crisis.

It is no coincidence that corporate public affairs practitioners have responsibility for most of these actions within their companies, and are, once again, required to lead the way.

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