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Term ‘trust’ increasingly misused by companies, study finds

Companies’ use of the word ‘trust’ has risen by a factor of eight in the past decade, indicating an increasing corporate obsession with trustworthiness, according to a study by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and co-authored by Robert Phillips.

The study maintains the focus on trust is not always backed up by corporate action. "Trust often spoken is trust rarely earned,” commented Phillips.

An analysis of the use of ‘trust’ – when referring to the concept, not the legal structure – in annual reports of FTSE 100 companies over the last decade, found that the word was mentioned just 38 times in 2005, but has climbed steadily since, appearing on 317 occasions in 2014.

Tony Manwaring, CIMA’s executive director of external affairs, said: “The concept of ‘trust’ has always been misused by companies, but the past ten years has seen it achieve staggering growth as a corporate buzzword.

“This is bizarre, because ‘trust’ is not something companies can directly control – it is an outcome. It does not work as a message. Endlessly repeat the word ‘trust’ if you want, but it will not make people trust you.”

The report comes ahead of the 2015 Anthony Howitt lecture, a bi-annual event organised by CIMA where Phillips, author of “Trust me, PR is dead”, is delivering the keynote address.

Chartered Institute of Management Accountants | UK & NI Ireland | Trust

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