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Public Trust in Business Stable but Can Improve, Edelman Survey Says

January 22, 2014

Public trust in government has plunged around the world but trust in business is holding steady, says Edelman’s 2014 Trust Barometer. A 14-point gap, the largest ever, now exists between trust in government and trust in business — not because trust in business has increased, but rather because trust in government has been decimated, says the firm’s annual survey of trust and credibility. Among informed publics around the globe, trust in government fell four points to an historic low of 44 percent. In the United States it dropped 16 points, to 37 percent.

Eighty-four percent of respondents said they believe business can pursue self-interest while also doing good for society. “People trust business to innovate, unite and deliver across borders in a way that government can’t,” said Richard Edelman, the firm’s president and CEO. It’s up to CEOs to educate the public about the economic, societal, political and environmental contexts in which their businesses operate, he said. But survey respondents said more regulation is needed in industries like financial services, energy, and food and beverage. Technology and automotive continued to be the most trusted sectors, while banks were least trusted.

Businesses that are small, medium-sized or family-owned are more trusted than big businesses, the survey found. According to Edelman, CEOs can build trust in themselves and their companies by communicating clearly and transparently, telling the truth no matter how unpopular it is, and regularly engaging with employees. — Greg Beaubien


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