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  • Kimberly Kayler

Measuring Trust

Editor’s Note: Edelman, a global communications firm, surveyed more than 33,000 respondents in 28 countries for The Edelman Trust Barometer. In its 20th year, The Trust Barometer has been a key indicator of society’s trust of major institutions. Trust is the foundation upon which organizations build with their stakeholders. Here are some key findings from the 2021 Survey.

The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer has proven that people no longer know where to gather reliable information, nevertheless what information is even trustworthy. The information in this study has revealed that among individuals across the world, there is widespread misunderstanding and mistrust towards societal institutions and international leaders. The societal institutions include business, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government and media.

The study touts that much of the mistrust is due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The world’s two largest economies, China and the U.S. have seen the greatest decline in trust among their citizens. Much of this distrust is due to individuals believing that they do not have trusted leaders. With the decline in trust, individuals are struggling to decide who to trust and where to find credible information. It is evident that with the rise in mistrust around the globe, there is widespread uncertainty and suspicions surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine. The fears and hesitation about the Covid-19 vaccine continue to hinder the return to the workplace.

While there is currently a strong mistrust in leadership across the globe, the study has shown that there is a decrease in trust of NGOs, government and the media, however there is an increase in trust surrounding business. Not only is business the most trusted of the four institutions, it is also the only institution seen as both ethical and competent, with a 61 percent trust level globally. This has drawn people to expect more from businesses and their CEOs to lead on societal issues.

The survey also revealed that employers are a mainstay of trust, and employer media was the most believable. Employee expectations changed significantly as there was a positive change of importance on worker safety and job skills training programs.

Trust is an important aspect between the societal institutions, and to regain trust among them, each must play its part. Businesses must embrace their mandates and expectations stemming from the overall decline in trust. It is recommended that CEOs lead with facts and act with empathy on issues including sustainability, diversity and inclusion and upskilling. All societal institutions must provide trustworthy information and content, and institutions must partner with each other to solve issues.

Society is held together by trust, particularly in these times of turbulence. AOE witnessed first-hand the role of communications and business as a key element of developing trust with employees and other stakeholders during this last year. Without trust, credibility is lost and reputations are threatened. If you would like to learn more about this study and its implications for your organization, contact AOE today.

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