Growing income inequality is killing the dreams of people throughout the world who feel the economic system is rigged against them, according to Edelman's 20th Trust Barometer, which found that 56 percent of respondents believe today's capitalism is doing more harm than good.
Despite the downbeat view of capitalism, 58 percent of respondents rank business as the most trusted institution.
Richard Edelman said businesses have filled the void left by populism and government.
CEOs though, cannot operate with a focus exclusively on shareholder returns.
The Barometer, which was released at the Davos World Economic Forum, found that 92 percent of workers want CEOs to speak out on the issues of the day. Nearly three-in-four (73 percent) of employees want the opportunity to change society and about two-thirds of consumers are "belief-driven buyers."
Edelman sees the need to evolve its model for measuring trust to two gauges: competence and ethical behavior. "It is no longer only a matter of what you do, it's how you do it," said Edelman.
The Barometer found that business ranks as highest in competence by a 64 percent to 10 percent bulge over government.
In the ethical behavior category, NGOs hold a 31 percent advantage over government and a 25 percent edge over business.
Though government scored low marks in competence and ethical behavior, survey respondents trust it more than business on protecting the environment and closing the income gap.
Media took a beating in the Edelman survey as 57 percent of respondents said the media they use are contaminated with untrustworthy information. More than three-quarters of respondents worry about fake news being used as a weapon.
The Barometer found that the "informed public" (wealthier, more educated and frequent consumers of news), which comprise 17 percent of respondents, are far more trusting that the "mass population."