Most consumers believe too many brands are ‘trust-washing’, according to Edelman Trust Barometer

As a British marcoms pro in Amsterdam, I was heartened to see how many companies from The Netherlands (including our clients) were listed on the recent FT Diversity Leaders 2020, which assesses companies’ success in promoting all types of employee diversity.

Be authentic

As an agency which recognises how diversity of all types enhances our vibrant work culture and provides our clients with a range of perspectives, our view is always that when communications aren’t aligned with business purpose, audiences can sense inauthenticity. Indeed, our own Trust Report, found more than half of consumers surveyed in eight countries felt brands used societal issues as a marketing ploy to sell more product.

When communications aren’t aligned with business purpose, brands get into hot water. Audiences can sense inauthenticity. Over half the audiences Edelman surveyed in its Trust Report released earlier this year said that too many were ‘trust-washing’.

Make a difference

Critically, acting with an authentic voice and genuinely integrating purpose-driven communications into real initiatives and genuine societal change has a direct link to business performance and 70% of customers link this to purchase decisions.

So this report which reviews factors including gender balance and openness to all forms of sexual orientation in 700 European companies is an important benchmark.

Trust washing

My heart always sinks after the summer when Pride season is over and brands across the world slowly remove rainbow flags from their social profiles. Indeed, our CEO Richard Edelman has termed this ‘Trust-washing’ and our research shows that it has the potential to seriously erode trust between brands and society.

This is to say nothing of the immense – and depressing – gap between talk and action that you sometimes see when it comes to diversity in the senior leadership bench. None of us alone can bring the right balance of perspectives and life experience to solve the business problems of our client. It takes a genuinely diverse team to deliver the best work.

Gender balance

A critical part of this diversity is in gender balance. Edelman’s Global Women’s Equality Network was established to achieve gender parity within our firm’s most senior levels – and has achieved just that.

We’ve still got work to do to ensure that we remove every barrier to allowing everyone to achieve their potential – but I’m proud that when we show up to meet with clients, they’re getting a diverse range of perspectives from comms and marketing professionals.

Critically, in these uncertain times, acting with an authentic voice, and genuinely integrating purpose-driven communications into real initiatives and genuine societal change has a direct link to business performance as 70% of customers link this to purchase decisions. It’s a win for your employees, customers, business and society.

Written by Steve Heywood, general manager and CEO, Edelman Netherlands


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