PwC study shows bigger trust gap between bosses and everyone else


To paraphrase the Nobel Prize-winning economist Kenneth Arrow, virtually every transaction has within it an element of trust. PwC surveyed more than 500 business executives, more than 2,500 consumers, and around 2,000 employees in the United States across various industries to determine the state of trust in America. Here are some of the key findings:

  • The trust gap is growing: 90% of business executives think customers highly trust their companies but only 30% actually do—a higher gap than in 2023 and 2022 when the gap was 57%. Employees are more likely to trust a business than consumers—67% of them trust their employer. However, 86% of business executives think employees trust their employers—that’s an 18% gap. In 2023, this gap was 14%, and in 2022 it was 15%.
  • Executives aren’t sure how to build trust: 24% of executives say there’s a lack of clarity about what stakeholders want, up 7% from 2023. The same number of executives also say figuring out who owns trust is a top-three challenge.
  • The C-suite doesn’t trust each other: Only 44% of C-suite executives say they trust each other, compared to 53% of employees who say they trust each other. Although 86% of executives did say they trust their employees, only 60% of employees think the C-suite trusts them.
  • Proximity bias impacts trust: 68% of business executives say they trust remote and in-person employees equally, but 31% of employees believe executives trust in-person employees more.
  • Monitoring remote work erodes trust: 71% of employees say flexibility around when they do their work would build trust, but only 43% of executives say they offer this. Roughly the same amount of employees say remote and hybrid work would build trust, but only 45% of companies offer it. Meanwhile, roughly a third of employees at companies with remote work say they would trust their company less if it tracked their online activity.

“There isn’t just a moral case for building trust—there’s a business case as well,” the report’s authors wrote, “with 93% of business executives agreeing that the ability to build and maintain trust improves the bottom line.”

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