People trust companies more than the government to handle a crisis — and it shows just how much corporate America is stepping up to tackle the coronavirus pandemic

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People trust companies more than the government to handle a crisis — and it shows just how much corporate America is stepping up to tackle the coronavirus pandemic
People trust companies more than the government to handle a crisis — and it shows just how much corporate America is stepping up to tackle the coronavirus pandemic

The World Economic Forum is calling on companies to act, and employers like Starbucks, Postmates, Walmart, and Target have already taken action.

  • Across the globe, people trust business leaders more than they do their government, Edelman's 2020 Trust Barometer shows. 
  • The public placing more trust in the private sector than the public sector seems to be playing out in how companies are responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Businesses have stepped up and taken proactive measures, while the stock market plunged in reaction to President Donald Trump's coronavirus plan
  • World Economic Forum Managing Director Jeremy Jurgens tells Business Insider that "global, proactive" measures between the private and public sector are needed to fight coronavirus.
  • This article is part of Business Insider's ongoing series on Better Capitalism.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

People have more confidence in CEOs than their governments to lead, and coronavirus is putting a spotlight on that phenomenon. 

That's according to Edelman's 2020 Trust Barometer, a survey of 34,000 people published in January 2020, where respondents ranked the government, NGOs, and the media in terms of competency and ethicalness. Only business was ranked as competent. NGOs came after, then the media, and then government in last place. The government received the worst score, labeled the most unethical and least competent of the four actors. In addition, 2019 Pew Research indicates that Americans think the public's trust in the federal government has been declining over the past several years.

These feelings seem to be playing out in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The stock market tanked Thursday after President Donald Trump shared his plan to combat the outbreak Wednesday night, indicating many lack confidence in the US government's response.

Meanwhile, in the absence of more federal guidelines, people have been looking to their employers to take action. Apple, Google, and Amazon are some of the largest companies who have restricted travel or asked their employees to work remotely as a precaution against the novel coronavirus.

In the absence of paid, federally mandated sick leave, companies have started outlining their own emergency plans. Amazon, for example, will provide up to two weeks of paid sick leave to employees who are quarantined or diagnosed with COVID-19. Starbucks, Walmart, Trader Joe's, Target, and Postmates also updated their sick leave policies or have created emergency funds for workers. 

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, in an interview with CNBC, said that state and local governments across the US need to follow the lead of the business community. 

"Businesses are stepping up to take action ... but it can't just be the business community driving this," Gottlieb said.

According to World Economic Forum Managing Director, Jeremy Jurgens, global partnerships between companies, international organizations, and governments will be crucial in tackling the pandemic. 

Jurgens helps oversee the COVID Action Platform for business, an emergency coronavirus task force launched by The World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum comprising more than 200 businesses including the likes of Alphabet, HP, Deloitte, and Volkswagen.

"This will take global, proactive cooperation to stop," Jurgens told Business Insider. 

Some of the group's initial plans include helping the World Health Organization raise the estimated $12 billion it says is needed to create and distribute a coronavirus vaccine. Another plan is to help address what the WHO estimates will be a global shortage of 89 million face masks for health workers. 

"This is an excellent example of stakeholder capitalism in the sense that we need to have all the stakeholders come together, from academia, from the private sector, research, civil society organizations, foundations. It's global in nature," he said. 

According to Jurgens, this type of partnership will help accelerate solutions to government needs. He sees the private sector being crucial in a number of ways. 

"If you think about mobilizing the research capacity globally, there are more researchers in private sector organizations than there are in government organizations," he said.

This will be crucial in developing a global vaccine. The director also explained that companies can work together to ensure that global supply chains of key commodities remain open, with businesses stepping in and helping each other. And when it comes to distributing things such as facemasks or hand sanitizer, companies in transportation logistics can help meet directives from the WHO and government agencies. 

This emergency task force, where companies partner with global institutions and governments, could provide a template for tackling future crises, such as climate change, the director said. 

"I see it as a mobilization opportunity to show the best of what's possible of stakeholder capitalism," he said. 

Read the original article on Business Insider
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