Last year I wrote about the Edelman Trust Barometer, extensive, global analysis evaluating public views across four core institutions;

  • Government
  • NGO’s (Non-Governmental/ Non Profit Organisations)
  • Media
  • Business

The research is undertaken each year and having started in 2000 this year marks Edelman’s 20th tapping of the trust gauge.

The 2020 report is now available and once again makes for fascinating reading. I’d urge you to grab a copy and read it, but if time is against you, here follows my take on the key points.

The headline story is that of the four institutions, Business narrowly holds the lead in Trust over NGO’s at 58% with global governance playing a significant part not least the commitment to the Paris Agreement with 550 companies set to reduce emissions and 175 now switching to 100% renewable electricity.

Worth noting that these decisions align with employees beliefs as 73% say they want to change society and two thirds of consumers stating that they are driven in their brand buying behaviour by their beliefs. So, we want to work for and buy from companies that we have an affinity with and can get behind.

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But what of the individuals heading organisations? 

Chief Executives are now expected to lead the way. A massive 92% of employees expect their CEOs to express views on topical and global issues. These issues are varied but include use of technology, climate change, income inequality and re-training. Some ¾ of the public polled said that CEO’s should take the initiative on key changes rather than waiting for governments to determine a way forward.  So, no pressure C-suiters, no more sitting on the fence over the big issues, time to make a difference.

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Interestingly whilst business and CEO’s are seen as leading the way some 56% of respondents say capitalism in its current form is doing more harm than good. This is probably why there’s a shift in expectation and in the actual make-up of the Trust score.

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The Edelman Trust Barometer marker on trust is based on two key pointscompetence in an ability to deliver on promised objectives and ethical actions, literally doing he right thing and broadly working toward improving society. Sadly, none of the four institutional groups stood out in both categories. Business is seen as the most competent ranked so by 64% of respondents as compared to only 10% considering governments as competent…ouch! NGO’s are perhaps unsurprisingly seen as the most ethical.

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83% of employees are seriously concerned about their job security due to the rise in automation and application of emerging technologies plus competition from overseas markets and the rise in the gig economy.

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Two thirds of those responding genuinely fear that the pace of technological change is too fast whilst 76% are concerned about fake news and it being used as a weapon by malicious elements.

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Trust is an often-overlooked factor in strategic planning and those who leave it out of their senior management discussions are missing opportunities to engage with stakeholders, notably present and future employees and of course customers.

Businesses can significantly support the wellbeing of those stakeholders by helping to reduce the growing levels of anxiety in their lives. This can be achieved in a number of ways but not least by providing reassurances on job security and prospects, mentoring, communicating openly and proactively on global issues and thinking deeply about the impact and effective implementation of technology.

On a broader point the four institutions need to collaborate to solve fundamental societal, fiscal and ecological issues. Of course, that’s easier stated than done especially with national figureheads and regime’s with polarising positions. Work however has started with moves to improve our approach to climate change and the sharing of information and resources will prove essential in tackling the current Coronavirus outbreak, proving when needed we can indeed work together to a common goal.

Edelman are on the money with this research and through it have identified core stress points for those living in the 2020’s.

As mentioned above I would recommend taking time to read the full report and reflect on where you see your organisation against the outputs of Edelman’s latest gauge on trust.

The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer online survey sampled more than 34,000 respondents, which includes 1,150 general population respondents across 28 markets and 200 informed public respondents in each market, except China and the U.S., which have a sample of 500 informed public respondents each. All informed public respondents met the following criteria: aged 25-64, college-educated; household income in the top quartile for their age in their country; read or watch business/news media at least several times a week; follow public policy issues in the news at least several times a week. For more information, visit

In Business We Trust…But For How Long?
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