Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Management must become more inclusive to resolve ‘crisis of trust’, claims Edelman

February 2013

The legacy of scandals involving big corporations and public figures is a continuing crisis of public trust in leadership, according to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer.

Fewer than one fifth of study respondents believe senior business or government figures will tell the truth when confronted with a difficult issue.

“We’re clearly experiencing a crisis in leadership,” said Edelman president and CEO Richard Edelman. “Business and government 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 general public’s trust in leaders is far below that of institutions in all 26 markets. Globally, trust in business to do what is right is at 50%, while trust in business leaders to tell the truth is 18%, a 32-point ‘trust gap’. The gap between government and government official is 28 points.

This year’s Barometer also reveals that academics, technical experts and professionals are nearly twice as trusted as a CEO or government official.

Trust across all institutions increased, including a small improvement for business and government. Three of four institutions (NGOs, 63%; media, 57%; business, 58%) surpassed their all-time-highs.  

However, trust in media in the UK fell 14 points, after the Leveson Inquiry reported its findings on the role of the press and the phone-hacking scandal – making it the least trusted institution.

Driven by poor performance and the perception of unethical behaviour, banks and financial services remain the least trusted sectors, particularly in Germany (2%), UK (22%), Spain (19%) and Ireland (11%). With trust in two-thirds of the markets below 50%, trust in banks, globally, is now 11 points lower than it was in 2008.

Edelman | Global | Transparency

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