Energy is as vital to our lives as the air we breathe and the water we drink. No matter the source or delivery system, energy powers progress. It is in the interest of all people for energy companies to be trustworthy. However, the energy conversation, arguably one of the most important of our time, is filled with debate around if and how the energy sector fuels economic growth, improves quality of life, strengthens communities and respects the environment.
The stakes are especially high in the energy space. A measure of trust is critical as energy companies look for opportunities to bring energy solutions and benefits to all people while policymakers face the complex balancing act between resource development and economic, environmental and political realities. The good news is 86 percent of respondents believe a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the communities where it operates. Energy companies need to embrace this invitation to do the right thing.
The energy industry is on the right track in terms of building trust as trust of the industry has improved slightly over the last five years. Factors often driving peoples’ trust in energy include cost, reliability, sustainability and cleanliness. Major crisis events also affect trust levels as do supply fears. But trust is also underscored by the engagement environment in terms of public opinion, media coverage and NGO activity. In this ecosystem of trust, the typically low profile and limited engagement of the energy industry with communities, media and NGOs is a key trust driver.
Meanwhile, trust at the intersection of government and business has tremendous implications for the energy industry. Government is the least trusted institution and there is no business besides energy that relies more on partnership with government to get things done in terms of basic operations. These negative circumstances are exacerbated in times of energy crises, and ironically, it is precisely during these times that they have to work most closely together. The suboptimal level of trust creates a difficult dynamic — a potentially crippling one.
The energy industry faces significant trust deficits that are inherent to its industry, but Edelman’s 14th Annual Trust Barometer shows how various sectors — including renewables, natural gas, utilities, oil and mining — must engage in order to operate in the current trust environment.
View the presentation below to learn more about trust in energy.
April 9, 2014 Correction: This page previously stated that 84 percent of respondents believe a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the communities where it operates. It is 86 percent of respondents who have this belief.