April 2020 Global Results
Worldcom’s Confidence Index (WCI), an annual examination of the confidence and concerns of CEOs, is now expanded to a living survey and will offer current perspectives of the CEO mindset every month. April’s insights, the first in the monthly series, are captured from over 54,000 business leaders, and show the key differences from six months ago. The WCI will be now tracking leaders’ confidence and concern on a monthly basis to provide actionable insight as the pandemic recovery evolves.
As expected amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, overall confidence among global CEOs and CMOs has continued to slide since November 2019 – down 9.5 percent to a Worldcom Confidence Index (WCI) score of 18.03.
The most significant fall in confidence was seen in Portugal (down 9 percent), but the United States saw the biggest increase (25 percent), moving from 14th to first in the Worldcom Confidence Index.
Decline in confidence for 19 of the 24 topics
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis has driven a massive increase in engagement with topics related to the crisis and, no doubt contributed to a decline in confidence for 19 of the 24 topics.
Leaders in the U.S. seem particularly concerned about the ability to handle government and legislative change, and have the third lowest confidence score.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given the media a center-stage role, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the impact and role of the media has moved to the #1 topic for leader attention (from #3 in November 2019). Leaders are also slightly (5 percent) more confident about dealing with the media.
In last year’s Confidence Index, we highlighted the battle for talent as employee related topics dominated leaders’ agenda. Six months on, employee related topics are still high on the agenda. Retaining talent, upskilling and reskilling employees and employee engagement are all in the top five topics. Upskilling sees the biggest improvement in confidence (17 percent), but confidence in other employee-related topics has taken a hit. Attracting talent has the biggest fall – down 13 percent.
The Worldcom Confidence Index (WCI) is a living survey which uses Artificial Intelligence to monitor topics and sentiments from over 54,000 CEOs and CMOs around the world. Each month we will capture the top ten insights, changes, trends so that you can stay abreast of what’s on CEO/CMO’s minds. We are delighted to present the key findings for April 2020 below in The Worldcom Confidence Index 10.
The confidence of global leaders continues to slide
New monthly tracking of leader confidence
Leaders least confident about government and legislative change. Managing a crisis see drop in confidence
While governments around the world have made unprecedented responses to the current crisis, business leaders are least confident about handling government and legislative change. This topic is bottom of the Worldcom Confidence Index. Crisis management has also taken a hit in confidence. It has the fifth lowest topic score.
Suppliers see huge rise in attention while influencers remain #1 audience for leaders
Along with global confidence, the insights identify the importance of reaching specific audiences and the confidence levels that c-suite executives have in reaching those audiences. In 2019, CEOs were most concerned with reaching influencers. And, while influencers remain the #1 audience for leader attention, the level of engagement fell 35 percent. However, confidence in reaching influencers increased significantly, up 68 percent since November 2019.
The audience that saw a huge increase in attention was suppliers – up 273 percent. Although still the sixth placed audience, this rise suggests that the COVID-19 crisis has focused leaders’ attention on securing their supply chains.
The impact and role of the media becomes the #1 topic for leader attention, but people-related topics take four of the top six places in the topic list
Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic drive huge increases in topic engagement
The big risers in topic engagement relate to responses to the COVID-19 pandemic: Government and legislative change increased 1280%; Global trade agreements and tariffs increased 779%; Crisis management increased 472%.
Confidence in handling some of these topics is low in some countries. For example, the U.S. has the fourth lowest score for global trade agreements and tariffs.
The topic engagement for the impact of the way political leaders communicate on social media has also increased – up 419%. France sees the biggest increase in confidence relating to this topic – up 9 per cent. Whereas Australia sees the biggest fall – down 14 percent. The U.S. fell 2% and has a below average confidence score.
Plastics and the Weinstein effect are major outliers in Index dominated by the COVID-19 impact
While many of the results can be directly related to the COVID-19 crisis, there are outliers that show that leaders continue to focus on other issues too. Unacceptable behaviour, such as sexual harassment, can have a significant impact on reputation. This topic increased by a massive 451% and confidence in handling it was the second lowest on the Index.
Reducing plastics and other sustainability issues was a new entrant at #4 in the topic Index. But leaders seem quite confident about handling this with the third highest Worldcom Confidence Index score.
The Worldcom Confidence 10
The Worldcom Confidence Index highlights concerns/confidence across 24 topics and six audiences. We have outlined the top 10 findings in what we call “The Worldcom Confidence Index 10.”
#1 Confidence levels continue to slide – down 9.5 percent
- The United States is the biggest riser (up 25 percent) but confidence still lower than 2018 levels
#2 Government and legislative change sees huge rise in attention (up 1280%) and the lowest confidence of all topics
#3 In the heart of the COVID-19 crisis, crisis management has fifth lowest Worldcom Confidence Index score
#4 Influencers remain #1 audience, but suppliers see huge increase in leader attention – up 273 percent
#5 The impact and role of the media becomes the #1 topic for leaders’ attention
#6 Employee-related topics continue to feature high on leaders’ agenda
- Retaining talent – the #2 topic
- Upskilling and reskilling – the #3 topic
- Employee engagement – the #5 topic
- Economic migration – the #6 topic
- Employee related topics take four out of the top six topic places
#7 Plastics and Weinstein effect create outliers in Index dominated by the impact of COVID-19
- The topic of sexual harassment increased by a massive 451% and confidence in handling it was the second lowest on the Index
- Reducing plastics and other sustainability issues was a new entrant at #4 in the topic Index. But leaders seem quite confident about handling this with the third highest Worldcom Confidence Index score
#8 Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic drive huge increases in topic engagement
- Government and legislative change increased 1280%
- Global trade agreements and tariffs increased 779%
- Crisis management increased 472%
#9 The impact of the way political leaders communicate on social media is up 419%
- France sees the biggest increase in confidence relating to this topic – up 9 per cent
- Australia sees the biggest fall – down 14 percent. The US fell 2% and has a below average confidence score
#10 Over 65s are the most confident leaders – no doubt drawing on experience of many crises
- Generation X leaders are least confident, and the only age group with below average confidence.
Artificial Intelligence provides unrivalled view of trending topics and leaders’ confidence and concern in addressing them
As for the 2019 Worldcom Confidence Index, the study was able to operate at this scale, and in nine different languages, because the data was captured using a breakthrough approach powered by artificial intelligence (AI), which allowed us to discover the issues that concern leaders – and their confidence levels in addressing them. The chosen research firm, Advanced Symbolics Inc. (ASI), has developed a patented method of building representative samples and then capturing information with their AI tool. By using ASI’s AI tool, we have produced a truly global perspective on the business issues of the moment and where they rank in terms of leadership attention. We’ve also calculated the confidence index level for every topic and audience and identified how this changes around the world. This is incredibly valuable insight because it not only represents what leaders are talking about, rather than responses to questions, but also shows their confidence or concern in addressing each topic. It means you can compare your own thoughts with more than 54,000 of your global peers.