Businesses need to step up. That's the message as we begin 2022, from fellow business leaders (see BlackRock CEO Larry Fink's Annual Letter to CEOs) and company employees, according to Edelman's annual Trust Barometer.

Fink's letter reflects, in some respects, aspects of Page's Pacesetter model, which looks specifically at four key areas of work done by corporate communications teams: Societal Value; Brand Stewardship; Corporate Culture; and CommTech.

"What (truly great companies) share is that they have a clear sense of purpose; consistent values; and, crucially, they recognize the importance of engaging with and delivering for their key stakeholders," says Fink. "And the relationship between a company, its employees and society is being redefined."

As communicators, we know that and are working with our organizations to make this shift.

"We also see ample evidence that CCOs are playing a key role helping CEOs transform their companies by defining, reinforcing or reviving corporate character – the unique, differentiating identity of the enterprise," said the Page Pacesetter report.

Fink talks about Brand Stewardship: "It's never been more essential for CEOs to have a consistent voice, a clear purpose, a coherent strategy and a long-term view." He speaks to the importance of culture: "Employees need to understand and connect with your purpose; and when they do, they can be your staunchest advocates." He references societal value, throughout: "The next 1,000 unicorns...sustainable, scalable innovators - startups that help the world decarbonize and make the energy transition affordable for all consumers."

And, he adds BlackRock's role in the change, mentioning new technology to give shareholders a larger voice, adding: "At BlackRock we are doing the same: working with our own employees to navigate this new world of work."

The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer finds companies to be the most trusted source of information, outpacing the government and media, putting greater emphasis on internal communications and culture. And when it comes to the corporate brand - what it stands for in the public domain - 60% of employees expect their CEO to speak out on controversial issues they care about, and as for societal value, 81% want CEOs to be personally visible when discussing work their company has done to benefit society. 

In short, companies all over the world are being asked to do more. That means that CCOs and their teams face a rising bar, on credible information to employees; on emphasizing and delivering social value; and engaging with their stakeholders through their corporate brand. The Pacesetter model offers the profession guidance on how best to navigate these challenging times. 

We will continue to see how companies are adapting to these new challenges at our events throughout the year, including Page Conversations in the next few weeks on the Fink letter and Trust Barometer, and the Spring and Annual conferences in April and September, respectively.