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The Boardroom Frontier: Building stakeholder trust

A new Deloitte Global Boardroom Program survey of board members and senior executives reveals shifting priorities over the next three years

ESG is becoming the top concern

When it comes to protecting and building trust among an organization’s various stakeholder groups—customers, employees, business partners, investors, and communities—leaders say their priorities are shifting rapidly.

Deloitte Global Boardroom Program's survey of 177 board members and senior executives across more than 30 countries reveals most organizations (67%) were focused on responding to challenges related to COVID-19 over the past 18 months. Other focus areas mentioned were crisis management and financial integrity/financial health.

Today, financial integrity/financial health has become the top concern among leaders when it comes to building and maintaining stakeholder trust (see figure). But two other priorities emerged: Customer experience and cybersecurity. These three priorities seem to reflect current geopolitical conflicts and economic concerns but also acknowledge the crucial importance of customer trust and loyalty. More positively, it also indicates most respondents believe we’re in the aftermath of the pandemic, so it no longer needs to remain a top concern.

Building stakeholder trust: Shifting focus areas among global leaders

Areas of focus in building trust with stakeholders

But the longer-term forecast shows other significant shifts in focus and priorities. Over the next three years, 61% of respondents say environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues will be top of mind in their efforts to build and maintain stakeholder trust. Alongside customer experience ranks innovation and technology—recognizing the pace of change and that this is also central to building trust in the future. 

Currently, only 45% of respondents say ESG is a primary concern; it ranks fourth in importance. But over the next three years, ESG emerges as the number one concern among respondents. 

“The survey confirmed that business leaders are recognizing that business needs to play a bigger role in the future—to help solve the climate crisis, become more engaged with communities and invest more in their workforce, whether in wellbeing or in skills for the changing nature of work. This mirrors society’s greater call for leadership from business, and also reflects investor trends. It will be interesting to see how widespread this has become as businesses enter the new reporting season,” William Touche, senior partner, Deloitte UK and leader, the Deloitte Global Boardroom Program, explains. 

Global business leaders say ESG is becoming the top focus in building stakeholder trust

Areas of focus in building trust with stakeholders

A full report of the Deloitte Global Boardroom Program survey will be published in early February 2023. For further information or to receive a report, contact us.

The Deloitte Global Boardroom Program

The Deloitte Global Boardroom Program brings together the knowledge and experience of Deloitte member firms around the world to address critical topics of universal interest to company boards and management. Supplementing country programs, its mission is to promote dialogue between corporations and their boards and management, investors, the accounting profession, academia, and government. In addition to the publication of thought-pieces on critical topics, the Deloitte Global Boardroom Program hosts a series of must-see webinar discussions with eminent panelists to help boards and management of global companies to stay current and challenge perceived wisdom. 

For more information and to become a member, contact

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Dan Konigsburg

Managing Director 

Technology, Media and Telecommunications

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