Navigating distrust and division in America

The 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Business and Racial Justice reveals a stark reality at the heart of American society. Concerns about racism and institutional failures to address systemic injustice have created a climate of distrust and division.

While most people believe that organizations should lead the fight against racism, there is a significant gap between expectations and perceived performance, particularly for government and media. In a landscape where worry over divisive forces like political rhetoric and AI-generated misinformation rivals existential fears, the role of businesses and employers becomes crucial. Trust in “my employer” to address racial injustice stands out, but the challenge remains for all institutions to navigate these turbulent waters and foster genuine inclusion and equity.


The call for racial justice remains unanswered


Personal experiences of racism rise

Sixty-seven percent are concerned about systemic racism and racial injustice in the U.S., and since September 2020, the percentage of respondents who say they or someone in their families have experienced racism has jumped 9 points (from 41 percent to 50 percent).



The failure of leadership

When looking across all institutions — my employer, business, NGOs, media, and government - my employer is the only trusted institution to address racism in the U.S. at 71% — at least 20 points more than any other institution.



Recommit, don’t retreat

Seventy-six percent say that companies should address the criticism when DEI initiatives are attacked internally or externally, defending the work and inviting conversation.



Brand trust at stake

The imperative to continue the work of diversity, equity and inclusion includes meeting not just the needs and expectations of those inside the workplace, but those outside of it as well. Respondents are 24 points more likely to trust business to address racism when they feel business in general serves their racial community well vs poorly.


Edelman Trust Barometer 2024

There is a growing expectation for racial justice leadership

In the past year, there has been a growing expectation for institutions — government, employers, media, NGOs, and businesses — to take the lead on addressing systemic racism. Government is the only majority response with 54% of respondents saying they expect government to lead in addressing racism in this country.


Demand for workplace diversity programs

Six in ten people now view an inclusive work culture with a well-supported diversity program as crucial for attracting and retaining someone like them as an employee. This view has surged in the past two years, rising 9 points since 2022. The majority across racial and ethnic communities also share this sentiment. 

Edelman Trust Barometer 2024



Lead with confidence, courage, and clarity


Trust is local

“My employer” is more trusted than other institutions to address racism, and colleagues are more trusted than executives to tell the truth about diversity matters at work.



Invest in and involve your people

DEI programs benefit employees across all backgrounds. Create systems and processes to invite concerns into the conversation.



Reflect and reach the community

Trust is built when brands elevate the communities they serve. Representation yields business impact.



Stay the course

Loyalty to employers increases with a robust DEI infrastructure. Employees and the public demand follow-through on commitments.


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The Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Business and Racial Justice is an annual survey in its 5th year. The research was produced by the Edelman Trust Institute and consisted of 30-minute online interviews conducted between May 9 and May 24, 2024. Learn more >






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