Popular demand for greater organisational transparency is rising. Social networking has made it much easier for people to air their complaints – a trend that will increase as large swathes of the populace become wealthier and better educated. Some consumers may also decide to get their message across by becoming choosier about how they spend their discretionary income. Rising consumer expectations will, in turn, give other stakeholders more power. Consumers increasingly care about the impact of business on their local communities, and governments and investors are motivated by what voters want.
Most executives already recognise that business has social as well as financial responsibilities. They believe it’s important to balance the interests of different stakeholders, rather than focusing solely on investors, employees and customers. But there’s a big gap between what they aspire to do and what they actually do. Organisations have to factor broader, non-financial considerations into their business decisions. They will have to measure the full impact of all their activities: not just the fiscal and economic effects, but the social and environmental effects, too. This will enable management to understand the trade-offs between different strategies and make the best decisions for every stakeholder. Making the right decisions and reporting the results will also help companies earn more trust, more custom and thus more profit.
CEOs are paying close attention to how human connection is affected by technology. And as our interactions become ever more automated, data-driven and virtual, the human factor is receding. 69% of global CEOs are convinced that it’s harder to gain and retain people’s trust in an increasingly digitalised and connected world. They are particularly anxious that breaches in data security and ethics, and IT outages and disruptions could impair public trust in their industry.
China’s economic growth and technological advances have created new food safety and food quality challenges for corporations and policy makers. Supply and production chains are growing in size and complexity, rising incomes are driving consumer demand for more variety, and social media has increased public awareness of food safety issues. Building trust in food is a difficult and complex problem, but it is also an opportunity. With so much information available via the internet, China’s consumers are increasingly concerned about the health of their families. They are learning about the ingredients and origins of the food they purchase. More people than ever are willing to pay higher prices for better quality, and customers are loyal to brands that they trust.