Global Practices

The Year in Trust

Richard Edelman presented the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, and in New York, London and Washington D.C..



The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer is the 12th annual survey of trust and credibility on institutions, spokespeople and timely challenges facing international leaders of today. The global results of the survey were released at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last month. And in events around the world – from Washington, D.C. to New York to London, and in Davos as well – Richard Edelman presented the Barometer’s findings to leading thinkers representing business, government, media and NGOs to discuss the findings.

Here is a look at the global results from the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer, from these events:

This past year, trust influencers fell into two categories: actors and inactors.

Government inaction was one of the major influences on trust in the past year. The Arab Spring revealed governments unable, and in many cases unwilling, to serve the interests of their citizens and respond to their calls for change. When compared to the swift actions taken by government in 2008 and 2009 to address economic uncertainty, the Euro Sovereign Debt Crisis epitomized “too little, too late.” And when the U.S. Debt Ceiling Debate became a political issue, with opposing sides seemingly working hard to prevent agreement, trust in government, and government officials, naturally plummeted.

Business must now earn, and embrace, a license to lead. It is no longer sufficient for companies to just operate efficiently or focus on profits – they must have a larger agenda, and a commitment to society and the people they serve, to earn trust in the eyes of consumers and other stakeholders. Technology remains the most trusted industry, largely due to their ability to innovate and engage with their customers to improve their products and services. Trust fell in 2011, but business has all the tools at its disposal to regain trust and set the tone for the future.

NGOs filled the gaps left by government and business, particularly in India and China, where the level of trust in NGOs skyrocketed. An increasingly global and connected society, with its fair share of challenges–social and otherwise–has provided NGOs the opportunity to serve their communities.

Media proved to be a “big tent” in 2011. They not only covered large and complicated issues, but innovated their methods of communication. They grew their reach by joining, and in some cases inventing new methods of reaching their audiences.

For every institution, the challenges of trust are not static – they must be considered every day, in every aspect of their operation, and with the rapid and seemingly constant changes to the world unfolding around then. How they read the data from the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer, and what they do with that information, will set the tone for how they rise or fall as a trusted enterprise in the year ahead.

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