Earlier this year, Edelman released its Trust Barometer which gauges trust levels across a range of institutions such as government, NGOs, the media, health authorities and business. Now in its 22nd year, the research polled 36,000 respondents across 28 different countries. Focusing on business, Edelman found that trust both declined and gained in 11 out of 27 countries while it remained the same in a single instance (Nigeria was excluded from this question).
Trust is higher in countries that experienced meteoric economic progress over the past two to three decades. Not only that, levels of trust among the public are still rising significantly year-on-year in those markets. China had the highest trust in business out of all countries polled at 84% and it experienced a 14-percentage point gain between 2021 and 2022. Indonesia came second with 81% and it was followed by India and the UAE with 79% and 78%, respectively. Saudi Arabia rounded off the top 5 with 74%.
At the opposite end of the scale, trust in business was lowest in Russia at just 34%, a figure that remains unchanged since the last edition of the barometer. It should not come as too much of a surprise given Russia’s reputation for systematic corruption underpinned by power, wealth and a network of notorious oligarchs. What may be more surprising are the other countries where less than 50% of respondents trusted business – South Korea (43%), Japan (48%), Germany (48%), the United States (49%) and the United Kingdom (49%).
This pattern can be attributed to a vicious cycle of mistrust across many institutions, particularly the government and the media. Business has been expected to take the lead on a range of societal problems and it has fallen short addressing issues such as climate change, economic inequality and workforce reskilling. It is also necessary for businesses to work with other institutions to tackle societal issues but there has been a lack of collective effort towards fostering innovation and making an impact.
The public are also increasingly advocating for brands based on their beliefs and values. This has also had an influence on where people are choosing to work and how they invest their money. Despite the global trust disparity, business remains the most trusted institution in the Trust Barometer at 61%, ahead of NGOs at 59%, the government at 52% and the media at 50%.