We believe that trust is an asset that enterprises must understand and properly manage in order to be successful in today’s complex operating environment. Unlike reputation, which is based on an aggregate of past experiences with a company or brand, trust is a forward facing metric of stakeholder expectation.
In January 2012, Edelman released the global findings from the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer – the 12th year of the firm’s annual trust and credibility survey. The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer shows an overall decline in trust globally, with steep declines in the levels of trust in government and business.
Government is now the least trusted institution–trailing business, media, and NGOs. Business experienced fewer and generally less severe declines in trust, but has its own hurdles to clear – notably that CEO credibility declined 38 percent, its biggest drop in Barometer history. For the fifth year in a row, NGOs are the most trusted institution.
The 2012 Trust Barometer’s deep dive into the 16 attributes of trust found that the factors responsible for shaping current business trust levels are largely tied to business competence and that those that will build trust in the future, involve engagement behavior and societal imperatives.
Listening to customer needs, treating employees well, placing customers ahead of profits, and having ethical business practices are all considered more important than delivering consistent financial returns — and indicate that the path forward means continuing to do the basics well while also adopting a broader, societal view.
16 Trust Drivers (and how they cluster)
Our research indicates that a trustworthy company must combine operating efficiency with social responsibility, dividing the 16 Trust Drivers into “Societal” and “Operational” clusters.
Trust attributes clustered in the Operational category are:
- Offers high quality products/services.
- Has transparent open business practices.
- Communicates frequently and honestly on the state of its business.
- Delivers consistent financial returns to investors.
- Has highly regarded and widely admired top leadership.
- Is an innovator of new products, services or ideas.
- Ranks on a global list of top companies.
- Partners with NGOs, government and third parties to address societal issues.
Trust attributes that cluster together in the Societal category are:
- Listens to customer needs/feedback.
- Takes responsible actions to address an issue or crisis.
- Places customers ahead of profits.
- Treats employees well.
- Has ethical business practices.
- Works to protect and improve the environment.
- Addresses society’s needs in its everyday business.
- Creates programs that positively impact the local community.