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Trust in business on the up

The level of trust consumers have in business increased last year despite the slew of negative headlines about tax avoidance hitting many companies, according to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer.

trust

Trust in business increased to 51 per cent in January 2013, up from 38 per cent in 2012 and 43 per cent in 2011, the report states.

Trust in technology firms continues to be the highest at 72 per cent, while banks are unsurprisingly the least trusted institutions at 29 per cent, although the sector has registered a small rise from 27 per cent in 2012.

All sectors, excluding financial services, felt a rise in trust compared with last year, with automotives, energy brands and pharmaceuticals seeing the most marked improvement.

Increased trust was attributed to businesses creating jobs and apprenticeships and listening to customer needs.

Questionable motives behind business decisions and corruption or fraud were cited as the top reasons for a lack of trust in business amongst those whose trust in these institutions has diminished over the last 12 months. Last year saw Starbucks, Google and Amazon accused of tax avoidance and Barclays fined for its part in the LIBOR rate-rigging scandal.

Despite the increase in levels of trust, there is a widening gap between the trust people have in business and the trust people have in the leaders of those institutions to tell the truth.

Unsurprisingly then, CEOs and government officials remain the least credible spokespeople, according to the report, with consumers having more trust in regular employees with whom they can relate. In the UK, CEOs are less trusted (39 per cent) than the global score of 43 per cent.

Edelman’s report claims this shows the “democratisation” trend that has occurred in recent years.

Elsewhere, trust in media has fallen, making it the least trusted institution in the UK, as scandals including the BBC’s Jimmy Savile enquiry and the News of the World hacking scandal continue to plague the industry.

The threat of a triple dip recession has not hit trust in Government, which also increased. Corruption and incompetence are highlighted as the top two reasons for lack of trust in Government.

Richard Edelman, president and CEO, Edelman, says: “We’re clearly experiencing a crisis in leadership. Business and governmental leaders must change their management approach and become more inclusive by seeking the input of employees, consumers, activists and experts such as academics, and adapting to their feedback. They must also pass the test of radical transparency.”

The UK comes fifth in the rankings of most trusted national identity for a global business to be headquartered, ahead of Netherlands and the US but trailing Canada, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland.

Edelman surveyed 31,000 people in 26 countries via an online questionnaire. Countries surveyed include the UK, France Germany, the US, China, Brazil, Russia and India.

BOX:

  • Trust in business increased to 51 per cent in January 2013, up from 38 per cent in 2012 and 43 per cent in 2011.
  • Trust in Government increased to 44 per cent in January 2013, up from 38 per cent in 2012 and 44 per cent in 2011.
  • Media, however saw trust fall to 33 per cent in January 2013 form 37 per cent in 2012, but is an improvement of its low point of 22 per cent in 2011.
  • The UK has the starkest difference between trust in leaders (7 per cent) to tell the truth and trust in business (49 per cent) with a 42 point difference.
  • The gap between trust in UK Government (37 per cent) and its leaders (9 per cent) is less marked at 28 points difference.
  • Business is more trusted than Government in the UK, according to the report. Half of the general public think UK Government is incompetent, but only 18 per cent believe the same is true of business.
  • The UK also has a lower trust level (7 per cent) in business leaders than China, India, the US, France or Germany and the global average.
  • Globally, 50 per cent of people trust in business and 18 per cent trust leaders to tell the truth.

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