NGOs and Businesses are the most trusted institutions in Kenya, and teachers, NGO leaders, and business leaders are seen as a unifying force for a population increasingly grappling with personal economic fears relating to unemployment and higher costs of living, says the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer.
According to the report, NGOs, businesses, and the media are all seen as competent and ethical institutions. Trust in one’s employer (among employees) matched trust in NGOs across the general population, both growing by three percentage points year-on-year to 76%.
This becomes increasingly relevant when taken in the context of economic optimism collapsing around the world, with 24 of 28 countries surveyed seeing all-time lows in the number of people who think their families will be better off in five years. In Kenya, this figure saw a year-over-year double-digit decline (11pts), although 80% remain optimistic.
“As one of the most trusted institutions, NGOs hold the mantle of greater societal expectation and responsibility. This comes during a climate of greater economic uncertainty, which can be both a driver and outcome of polarization. Furthermore, business leaders must leverage their comparative advantage to inform debate and deliver solutions to societal challenges,” said Corazon Sefu Wandimi, Managing Director, Edelman Kenya.
More than three-quarters of Kenyans surveyed believed that CEOs are obligated to hold divisive forces in society accountable by defending facts and exposing questionable science used to justify bad social policies (82%); pulling advertising revenues from platforms that spread misinformation (76%); and Kenyans surveyed say companies could strengthen the social fabric by supporting politicians and media outlets that build consensus and cooperation (on average 76%).
The onus has also been placed on CEOs to improve economic optimism by remunerating workers with a just wage, ensuring their local communities are safe and thriving, paying fair corporate taxes, and retraining or upskilling employees. Most Kenyans expect CEOs to take a public stand on prominent issues including the treatment of employees, discrimination, the wealth gap, climate change, and immigration.