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Energy Workforce & Technology Council 90th Anniversary
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Energy in Crisis: (Re)Building Trust in a COVID-19 World

A panel of Houston-area energy leaders discussed how companies can build and rebuild trust among the public as the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hosted by PESA, Edelman and the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce, panelists analyzed the current state of trust and how it affects the energy sector and the Houston business community.

PESA President Leslie Beyer provided opening remarks and an overview of PESA. Moderated by Giselle Greenwood, Editor in Chief, Houston Business Journal, the panel included Paula McCann Harris, Schlumberger, Reid Morrison, PwC, and Jennifer Wallace, NRG.

The webinar began with a brief summary of Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer Special Report: Trust and the Coronavirus, presented by Steve Behm, Regional President, US Public Affairs, Edelman. According to the report, America’s most trusted source of information is employer communication followed by government websites, health company websites and traditional media. The least trusted source, by a wide margin, was social media. This finding underscores the importance of employers maintaining consistent communication with their team members.

While workers trust information provided by their companies, that’s not where they’re getting information about the virus, Behm said. According to Edelman’s study, a broad majority rely on major news organizations for most of their information about the pandemic. The second most important pandemic information source in other countries was the national government or global health organizations like the WHO. In the U.S., it was national health authorities such as the CDC.

The Edelman report shows the energy industry has made steady progress over the past several years at earning trust, Behm said. In 2012, just 54% or respondents said they trusted the energy industry to do the right thing. In 2020, that number is 63% – a nine-point increase. There’s room for additional improvement, Behm said.

Following Behm’s overview, Greenwood presented panelists with a series of questions:

  1. As we just saw, Edelman’s 2020 Global Trust Barometer Report, Energy still ranks near the bottom of major industries (technology, healthcare, automotive) when it come trust. How can the energy industry use this moment in time to build trust internally and externally?
  2. According to Edelman’s COVID-19 Trust report, 75% of Americans believe businesses must act to protect their employees and local community. Can you share how your companies have been adapting operations to keep employees – at home and in the field – safe?
    • What have been some challenges with facilitating remote working?
    • Does having employees working from home create cybersecurity problems?
    • How can leaders get closer to their people despite the distance of virtual work?
  3. There are now massive expectations about the role businesses must play in leading through this crisis. How are businesses keeping customers and stakeholders top of mind?
  4. Now more than ever, collaboration and partnership are important. Recently, two pharmaceutical giants, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi, partnered to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. While the energy industry is not in the business of creating vaccines, have you been a part of meetings with competitors to share best practices during this time?
  5. It may be too soon to predict these things, what will business in Houston look like post-COVID-19?

The full discussion of these issues is available for download, password: 8d%.+&!B



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