Trust in CEOs and employers on the rise, but US takes a big hit - Edelman Trust Barometer

Published on Mon, 05/03/2018 - 11:44

Trust in CEOs and employees' belief in their own companies has risen significantly over the past year, an Airmic webinar heard last month.

Described as a risk management success story, this was one of the few bright spots to emerge from a report on the annual Edelman Trust Barometer. Overall, it found there had been a drop globally in public trust of institutions and entire markets.

There were, however, many variations within this picture. Trust in the US had haemorrhaged by 37%, reflecting a collapse in confidence in government, whilst China topped the table with a 27% improvement. The UK scored 43%, where 60% is the pass mark, affected adversely by doubts over Brexit.

Chairing the webinar, Airmic deputy CEO Julia Graham, expressed her view that trust is like reputation - difficult to grow and easy to lose. The Edelman Barometer, she said, represented an important element of the context in which risk managers work. Trust, she added, is a forward-looking metric and a predictor of what the future might hold.

Paul Lowin, regional commercial manager, AXA Corporate Solutions told the webinar: "Trust-building activities should be one of the most important strategic priorities of every organisation."

A very positive and interesting result, he said, was the finding that trust in CEOs had risen sharply in the past year to 44%. Nearly two-thirds of respondents say they want CEOs to take the lead on policy change instead of waiting for government, which now ranks significantly below business in trust in 20 markets.

Although UK companies have some way to go to gain public confidence, they have gained tremendous ground among their employees, up 14% to 71%. According to Lowin, this is because they get to see the good their firms are doing before other people.

The survey underlined the importance of the social responsibility dimension. Business is now expected to be an agent of change. 64% believe a company can take actions that both increase profits and improve economic and social conditions in the community where it operates.

Watch the recording of the webinar

It also found a big drop in trust of the media, largely because of the emergence of on-line platforms and 'fake news'. This coincided with a growing trust in acknowledged experts such as academics.

By way of conclusion, Julia Graham said the results underlined the importance of risk managers aligning behind the corporate vision, collaborating to build capabilities and tracking and responding to emerging issues.

The survey involved 33,000 respondents across 28 markets.