The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer explores four factors that influence trust in business:
- Industry or Sector: The technology industry continues to lead as the most trusted sector. After changes in sourcing and management and a stronger focus on higher quality products, automotive, food & beverage and consumer packaged goods are showing strong trust rebounds over 2009. Media companies and banks continue to trail, seeing little movement since 2009 and, with additional incidents this year, are facing continued public and regulatory reprimand over ethics, business practices and malfeasance.
- Country of Origin (where a company is headquartered): Companies headquartered in BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) continue to suffer a trust discount, not just compared to global perception of western-based companies but also among respondents in western markets. Globally, respondents rated companies based in Germany, a market known for efficiency and productivity, highest followed closely by Sweden, Switzerland and Canada, all of which are known to have strong policies aimed at protecting employees, communities and the environment. China, Russia and India came in at some of the lowest ratings, with no improvement over the past five years.
- Enterprise Type (private vs. public companies, or business size): Family-owned and small- & medium-sized business outperformed big business in all regions but Asia where publicly-traded and big business companies received the highest trust scores. A stronger distrust of state-owned companies exists globally. Comparatively, private companies are seen as more entrepreneurial and innovative than public companies; however, both types face perceived lack of transparency and being responsive to employee needs.
- Leadership/CEO: Overall, trust in leadership has plateaued. Academics and experts remain the most trusted source of information about companies, followed closely by technical experts and “a person like yourself,” which has increased significantly since 2009. CEOs and government leaders remain at the bottom of the list for both Informed and General Publics, with extremely low trust levels on key metrics. Only one in four General Public respondents trust business leaders to correct issues and even fewer – one in five – to tell the truth and make ethical and moral decisions.