The organisations that we trust most to tackle the critical challenges for the future of our communities are businesses, ahead of governments and NGOs, according to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, which is a significantly different result to last year. Banco Santander has been working hard to earn that trust for many years, aware of the responsibility of trustworthiness that citizens require from corporations. The Santander Way, Santander's social contract, sets out all of its commitments in this area.
Trust, one of the trickiest intangible values to gain from the general public and one of the quickest to potentially lose, is the cornerstone of the prestigious Edelman Trust Barometer, which, year after year, gauges the global opinion of businesses, governments and institutions.
The consultancy firm surveys more than 36,000 people in 28 countries around the globe. This year's main conclusions include what the main fears of citizens are – economic inequality, climate change and disinformation, and that, in relation to these matters, we have more trust in businesses to tackle them with greater guarantees of success than in governments and NGOs.
In the previous report, when the population was asked about their trust in the ability of different institutions to resolve the issues that concern us most, governments had the most credibility (65%), ahead of businesses (62%), NGOs (62%) and the media (59%). In the 2022 survey, trust percentages have fallen and the most notable change is that businesses have moved to first place in the ranking (61%), which is practically the same figure as last year, followed by NGOs (59%). The drop in the ratings for governments (52%) and the media (50%) is revealing.
This increased mistrust is partially due to community leaders lacking in credibility. While scientists are the most trusted benchmarks for communities, according to 75% of people surveyed, 67% of the same said that they are convinced that journalists are deliberately misleading them and their concerns around weaponising disinformation and fake news are now at their highest levels ever (76%).
66% think the same about government leaders and 63% have a matching opinion of business leaders. Almost half of those surveyed see the government (48%) and the press (46%) as divisive forces in communities and none of the main sources are viewed as a trustworthy channel for general information. People prefer to use search engines (59%) rather than traditional media (57%), their own resources (43%) and social media (37%) to find answers.
Now is the time for businesses to include social problems in their corporate strategies
According to experts at Edelman, all of this data shows that businesses are now in a key position and their status as the most trusted institution carries with it undeniable opportunities. It should be noted that this phenomenon is hyperlocal. We don't actually trust "companies" in general. 77% trust their own employer and 65% trust what the company where they work says more than any other source.
According to the Edelman report, now is the time for businesses to put social problems at the centre of their corporate strategies. A vacuum has been created by the inability of some governments, and the consultancy firm's analysts believe that companies should intervene: for example, 81% of those surveyed think that business leaders should step up and play a role in discussions around public policies or highlight the work that businesses do to benefit communities.
Companies are 53 points ahead of governments for competence and 26 points ahead for ethics: the people surveyed do not think that governments are doing enough to tackle different social problems, such as climate change (52%), economic inequality (49%), retraining of the workforce (46%) and reliable information (42%).
Have companies stepped up to meet the demands of communities?
These social requirements are now reflected in many of the strategies and plans of various companies, including Banco Santander. The bank has already made a series of commitments to lay the groundwork for assuming this responsibility that communities are requiring of corporations. These are set out in The Santander Way, the bank's social contract, which includes the day-to-day goals set in order, especially, to ensure it is worthy of the trust of all of its stakeholders.
Santander aims to interact responsibly with all of its employees, as an essential factor in ensuring that its people are engaged and able to provide the best service to its customers, meeting and even exceeding the expectations of the latter. This generates predictable returns for our shareholders, which allows us to invest in initiatives that help communities to succeed. Santander promotes pride of belonging among its employees, in order to be one of the 10 best companies to work at in the geographies where it operates. At the same time, we are committed to having a diverse and inclusive workforce which will help us to attract, develop and retain the best talent, with no gender wage inequality by 2025.
Santander is also promoting its profile as an operator that will aid inclusive, sustainable growth. We want to meet customers' needs, help businesses to create jobs, improve the livelihoods of the communities we interact with and help to financially empower people through education.
In line with our purpose of becoming a more responsible bank, Santander is committed to financing that favours the transition to a low-carbon economy, financing renewable energies and backing the development of smart and sustainable infrastructures, taking into account the social and environmental risks and the opportunities generated by this "green" transition. This also encompasses its commitment to becoming a net zero company by 2050.