PWC

PwC has found some “jarring disconnects” when it comes to what consumers and business executives say drives trust.

Those discrepancies are especially glaring in the environmental, social and governance category, according to PwC’s survey of more than 500 executives and 1,000 consumers.

Fifty-six business leaders cite strong ethics and compliance policy standards as “extremely important” in building trust.

Transparent ESG reporting gets a 51 percent score followed by ethical and sustainable supply chain (48 percent), takes a public stance on social issues (45 percent) and takes a public stance on political issues (39 percent).

ESG issues are not top-of-mind for consumers. Only a quarter of PwC respondents rate strong ethics and compliance policy functions as important.

PwC survey: What builds trust in business for consumers and employees

That’s followed by ethical and sustainable supply chain (24 percent), transparent ESG reporting (19 percent), takes a public stance on social issues (14 percent) and takes a public stance on political issues (nine percent).

PwC put its own spin on the ESG gap between business execs and consumers. “Consumers care deeply about ESG initiatives such as climate change, but they may not fully understand what ESG reporting entails or they may consider it as part of their two top trust drives: accountability and clear communications,” the consultant firm said in a summary of the survey.

But PwC added: ESG skepticism may also be a problem.

It found that less than a quarter (24 percent) of consumers say the main reason for ESG pledges is that companies want to do the right thing.

Almost four in ten (39 percent) say the real motive for ESG is for PR purposes.

After a six-month investigation, the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder released its final report on Nov. 15 to say the best way to counter mis- and disinformation is to restore established norms that prioritize fact-based communications and avoid repeating falsehoods, especially in areas that can cause immediate and substantial harms such as threats to public health or undermining elections.

In other words, the media must continually criticize those who spread lies that COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility or that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 presidential election.

Aspen said politicians, CEOs, talk show hosts, TV anchors, doctors and lawyers can abuse their prominent roles and high degrees of reach for both personal and partisan gains because of the information environment that no longer punishes them for these actions.

On Bullshit

They are rewarded with a “liar’s dividend” because the social, political and professional consequences that previously existed are no longer in place.

These high-profile individuals “are the source and amplifiers of some of the worst and harmful disinformation.”

The Aspen report criticized the media’s “continued repetition, amplification, and rewarding of those who lie—by giving them high profile coverage—and by making the “who-said-what” horse race the story, instead of meeting their obligation to provide facts, context and hold liars to account.

The Institute quotes Harry Frankfurt's 2005 “On Bullshit” book about how the merchants of doubt don't care about spreading falsehoods. They only care about whether their twisted facts or outright lies are successful in persuading people. “In any case, we must not continue to tolerate lies, the liars and bullshitters who tell them, and those who give them prominence and profile without calling them into account,” states the Report.