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The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is the world's largest organization serving the professional and business interests of attorneys who practice in the legal departments of corporations, associations, nonprofits and other private-sector organizations around the globe.

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Collaboration provides new and international perspective on how CLOs and institutional investors agree and disagree on building and maintaining corporate trust

WASHINGTON (September 28, 2020) – The Association of Corporate Counsel, the world’s largest association of in-house lawyers, and Edelman, the global communications firm, released the first joint Trust in Business Report, a survey of chief legal officers (CLOs) and institutional investors on their perceptions of how to increase public trust in businesses. This is the first collaboration of its kind, measuring the factors that impact corporate trust from the perspective of chief legal officers (CLOs) and institutional investors.

Drawing on ACC’s 2020 CLO Survey and Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer, this report also cuts across several categories, examining such issues as diversity, corporate culture, and ESG (environment/sustainability/governance) practices.

“While there’s no debate that establishing and maintaining the public’s trust in a company is critical, how to get there may differ based upon one’s perspective,” said Veta T. Richardson, president and CEO of ACC. “In-house lawyers both understand that trust is critical and they are increasingly asked to play key roles to build trust from the inside and contribute to cultivating the company’s relationships with investors, shareholders, employees, and clients alike. This paper is a useful tool that we anticipate will spark thought and spur important discussions with the goal of increasing trust in business. ACC is grateful to partner with Edelman to provide these insights and we look forward to future opportunities to work with Edelman to advance these critical conversations.”

Josh Hochberg, general manager, financial communications & capital markets at Edelman, said, “Investors are now acutely focused on how employees and other stakeholders can impact the valuation of companies in which they invest. Companies that excel in driving ESG and other factors beyond financial performance will gain a clear advantage in winning investor trust and supporting a premium valuation. Investors believe that companies that fail to do this will be responsible for consumer, shareholder or employee activism.”

The report highlights the need for a holistic approach to trust. The data suggest that CLOs tend to approach building trust more from a demographic standpoint, while institutional investors tend to focus on top level business strategy. Nevertheless, survey results indicate that the two groups agree on several key factors in earning public trust, including a well-enforced, regularly surveyed, ethical company culture, and a proactive board of directors. Both groups also valued diversity in company leadership, stressed the need for continued ESG efforts, and expressed doubts that most companies are adequately prepared for employee activism.

The paper is available on the ACC website.

About ACC: The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is a global legal association that promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel who work for corporations, associations and other organizations through information, education, networking, and advocacy. With more than 45,000 members in 85 countries employed by over 10,000 organizations, ACC connects its members to the people and resources necessary for both personal and professional growth. By in-house counsel, for in-house counsel.® For more information, visit and follow ACC on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.