A question of trust
A new survey on levels of trust between the public and governments, business, NGOs and the media has just been released. The Edelman 2011 Trust Barometer tries to gauge the attitudes regarding the state of public trust in these institutions across 23 countries. Although the survey does not extend to Africa, it does draw some interesting conclusions on how, why and when people trust.
The survey participants make up a well-educated and media literate group.
Trust in NGOs is relatively high, with 61% of participants saying they trust NGOs to do what is right, while 56% will say the same for business, 52% will trust government and 49% expressed trust in the media.
Differences in developing vs developed
Differences in the developing vs developed economy markets emerge quite clearly in the survey, with people in emerging economies such as Brazil (81%), India (70%) and China (61%) largely believing that business will do what is right, compared to developed markets such as France (48%), the UK (44%) and the US (46%), where the majority of survey participants are sceptical.
In emerging economies, the media might well be less-focused on issues that may negatively affect brands, including green-washing, labour exploitation and consumer issues, at the same time as people are looking to corporations to improve living conditions through employment. Trust in NGOs are on par with that of business in emerging markets but remain more trusted than business in developed markets, according to the survey.
In terms of trusting specific industries to do what is right, participants scored tech (81%), automotive (69%) and telecom (68%) firms highest. Insurance (52%), banks (51%) and financial services (50%) made up the bottom three sectors, not surprisingly given the recent global financial crisis and following recession. Trust in the financial sector was hurt hardest in developed economies, dropping from 71% to 25% in the US, and from 46% to 16% in the UK.
Asked what matters most for corporate reputation, product/service quality (69%), transparency (65%), trust (65%) and employee welfare (63%) ranked highest while financial return to investors ranked lowest (31%) (once again the financial sector misses the trust boat).
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