New YPO Global Pulse Survey on Trust Finds Young Business Leaders View Trust as Critical But Lack Plans on How to Build it With Employees


New York, NY, 14 January 2020 – YPO, the global leadership community of more than 29,000 chief executives in 135 countries, conducted a member survey designed to provide the chief executive perspective on the importance of stakeholder trust, the extent to which they are taking action and succeeding at building cultures of trust within their organizations, and their views on the role of societal impact in building trust with stakeholders.

YPO’s 2020 Global Pulse Survey on Trust, conducted 1-18 November 2019 with 2,960 respondents, found it is a key matter for business leaders around the world, but there are significant gaps between business leaders’ thoughts and actions. Key findings include:

  • 96 percent of chief executives rate building and maintaining trust with stakeholders as a high priority, with close to half (42 percent) saying that the importance of building trust with stakeholders has increased in the past five years.
  • Only 40 percent of chief executives find it easy to build trust with employees, and they find it even more challenging to do so with their customers (36 percent). Regionally, US business leaders (39 percent) struggle more with establishing employee trust than their counterparts in Africa (53 percent), Middle East (46 percent) and Europe (43 percent).
    • Business leaders across the globe find it easier to build trust with vendors (48 percent) and investors (45 percent).
  • Even though most global business leaders agree this is high priority issue in which they feel increasing urgency around, over 60 percent have yet to measure employee trust within their business and only a third (34 percent) have defined specific plans within their business for building/maintaining employee trust.
    • Business leaders in Europe (43 percent), Canada (41 percent) and US (39 percent) are more likely than their counterparts in Middle East (18 percent) and Asia (30 percent) to have measured employee trust.
    • US (37 percent) and Latin America (36 percent) chief executives are the most likely to have a specific plan to build/maintain employee trust compared to chief executives in the Middle East (22 percent) and Africa (25 percent).
  • Business leaders report that competing priorities (41 percent) and lack of time (34 percent) are their biggest obstacles to successfully building/maintaining trust within their businesses.
  • Most chief executives understand the weight of their role, with 89 percent agreeing that they as business leaders are under pressure to embody their organizations’ values through their actions.
  • 77 percent of business leaders agree that they are under pressure to take the lead on change, rather than waiting on government to impose it.
    • Nearly a third (27 percent) of global business leaders agree that they are under pressure to take a stance on social and political issues that stakeholders care about.
    • Across the globe, US chief executives (18 percent) feel the least pressure to speak out on political and social issues whereas Latin American (39 percent), European (36 percent) and Asian (35 percent) feel the most pressure.
  • Most business leaders (71 percent) agree that their business can have a positive societal impact; fewer business leaders agree that taking action on societal issues improves employee (56 percent) or public trust (57 percent).

    • Business leaders in Latin America (82 percent) and Australia/New Zealand (79 percent feel the strongest about their organizations ability to make an impact; leaders in the Europe (69 percent) and US (68 percent) feel a little less so.
    • Chief executives in the US (40 percent) and Australia/New Zealand (54 percent) are the least likely to believe that taking action on societal issues improves trust with their employees. Latin American (74 percent) and European (74 percent) chief executives are more positive about the effects their societal efforts have on their employees’ trust.

2020 Global Pulse Survey on Trust Methodology:

The 2020 Global Pulse Survey on Trust was conducted by YPO from 1-18 November 2019 via an online questionnaire. A total of 2,960 YPO members responded to the survey. The sample included members in 115 countries. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 1.84 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

About YPO:

YPO is the global leadership community of more than 28,000 chief executives in 135 countries who are driven by the belief that the world needs better leaders. Each of our members have achieved significant leadership success at a young age. Combined, they lead businesses and organizations contributing USD 9 trillion in annual revenue. YPO members inspire and support each other through peer learning and exceptional experiences in an inclusive community of open sharing and trust. For more information, visit ypo.org.

YPO Media Contacts:
Amy Reid, areid@ypo.org, +1 646 678 0575 (United States)
Vickie Tikam, vtikam@ypo.org, +60 012 331 7411 (Asia)
Angela Mers, amers@ypo.org, +1 415 298 8534 (Canada)
Serena Marchionni
smarchionni@ypo.org, +34 699 903 472 (Europe) 

Angela Mers is the global PR and Media Manager at YPO and has worked for the organization since 2007. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with degrees in journalism and political science.