Edelman Trust Barometer 2020

Edelman Trust Barometer 2020
Edelman Trust
Barometer 2020
Edelman Trust Barometer 2020
Edelman Trust
Barometer 2020
The 20th annual trust and credibility survey. Research conducted
by Edelman Intelligence, a global insight and analytics consultancy.

Online survey in 28 markets           34,000+ respondents total                                  All fieldwork was conducted
                                                                                                 between October 19 and
                                                                                                 November 18, 2019

    General Online Population              Informed Public                                           Mass Population

    ­­­Ages 18+                            ­­­­500 respondents in U.S. and China;                   ­­­­All respondents not including
                                               200 in all other markets                                 Informed Public
    ­­­1,150 respondents per market
                                           Represents 17% of total
                                                                                                     Represents 83% of total
                                           global population                                         global population

                                           Must meet 4 criteria

                                            Ages 25-64
                                            In top 25% of household income per
                                            age group in each market
                                            Report significant media consumption
                                            and engagement in public policy and
                                            business news

                                       1 Fire and rescue personnel battle a bushfire near the town of Bilpin in
On the cover                           Sydney, Australia: David Gray/Getty Images; 2 Jamie Dimon, Chairman of
                                       Business Roundtable, which released a new Statement on the Purpose of
         1                             a Corporation signed by 181 CEOs committed to leading their companies
                                       for the benefit of all stakeholders: Mark Wilson/Getty Images; 3 Swedish
                  2   6                environment activist Greta Thunberg gives a speech at the plenary session
                                       during the COP25 Climate Conference: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty
         3                             Images; 4 China's President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump
                          7            at the G20 Summit in Osaka: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images;
        4                         8    5 UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks with newly elected Conservative
                                       MPs at the Houses of Parliament: Leon Neal/Getty Images; 6 New Zealand
                                       Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who announced a ban on military-style
                                       semiautomatic guns after a gunman killed 50 people at twzo mosques i n
                                       C h r i s t c h u rc h , N e w Ze a l a n d : M a r t y M e l v i l l e /A F P v i a G e tt y I m a g e s ;
                                       7 Emmanuel Faber, CEO and Chairman of Danone, who chairs the Business
                                       for Inclusive Growth (B4IG) platform overseen by the OECD: Ludovic Marin/
                                       AFP via Getty Images; 8 Former Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak,
                                       who is facing allegations of corruption linked to the multibillion-dollar state
                                       investment fund, 1MDB: Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images.
Edelman Trust Barometer 2020
2020 Edelman Trust Barometer

Executive Summary   Contents

                    2    The Evolution of Trust
                    4    A Growing Sense of Inequity
                    6    Fears Eclipse Hopes
                    7    The UK: A Parable of Distrust
                    8    Trust Is Built on Competence
                         and Ethics
                    9    Competence Is Not Enough
                    10   Business: Catalyst for Change
                    11   The Opportunity for Government:
                    12   The Necessity of Action

Edelman Trust Barometer 2020
The Evolution of Trust
                             We are living in a trust paradox.            job loss due to concerns such as
                             This is an era of strong economic            the lack of training, cheaper foreign
           Richard Edelman
           CEO               performance and nearly full                  competition, immigration, automation
                             employment; over the past two                and the gig economy. Over half of
                             decades, more than a billion                 our respondents said that they are
                             people around the world have lifted          losing the respect and dignity they
                             themselves out of poverty. The major         once enjoyed in their country. Three
                             societal institutions—government,            in four are worried that fake news will
People grant                 business, NGOs and media—should              be used as a weapon. Six in 10 fear
their trust based            be enjoying high levels of trust. Yet        the pace of technological change;
                             the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer,            they are no longer in control of their
on two distinct              our 20th annual study, tells us that no      destiny. Cue the growing number
considerations:              institution is trusted.                      of citizen-led protests and the rise
                                                                          of populism.
competence and               In past years, good economic
ethical behavior.            conditions have presaged rising levels       The “mass-class” trust divide has
                             of trust, and this link still applies in     become chronic, reaching record
                             developing markets                                            levels in more
                             in Asia and the                                               countries than
                             Middle East. But in             Trust-Building                ever, with a global
                             the developed world,            Priorities                    14-point gap between
                             major violations                for Business                  informed public and
                             of the social                                                 mass population
                                                                 Pay fair wages            trust in institutions. In
                             malfeasance,                        Focus on                  developed markets,
                             government                          retraining                less than one in three
                             corruption, fake                                              people believe that
                             news—have upended
                                                                 Partner with              they will be better off
                             this relationship. In               government                in five years. Under 20
                             developed markets,                                            percent of the general
                             trust has become                                              population express
                             uncoupled from GDP growth because            confidence in the system, and 73
                             people feel they are not getting their       percent are looking for change.
                             fair share of growing prosperity.            More than half of our respondents
                             National income inequality is now the        believe that capitalism causes
                             more important factor in institutional       more harm than good, and that
                             trust. In markets with high income           democracy is losing its effectiveness.
                             inequality, the gap between trust in         We find ourselves far from Francis
                             business and trust in government             Fukuyama’s 1992 book, “The End of
                             is much wider (12 points) than the           History,” which touted the triumph of
                             gap in low inequality markets (four          liberal democracy.
                             points). This is a worrying institutional
                             imbalance.                                   Business once paid only lip service
                                                                          to this kind of societal discontent
                             Fears are stifling hope, as long-held        but now it has leapt into the void
                             assumptions about the benefits of            left by populist and partisan
                             hard work and citizenship have been          government. It’s no longer business
                             upended. Eighty-three percent of             as usual, with an exclusive focus on
                             employees globally are worried about         shareholder returns. Business now

2020 Edelman Trust Barometer

sees the need to play a positive role   This seismic societal shift has led us,     The four existential issues of the
in global governance. The decision      after 20 years of research, to evolve       next decade—income inequality,
by the Business Roundtable to           our model for measuring trust. This         sustainability, information quality and
endorse a multi-stakeholder model       model supplants Professor Francis           artificial intelligence—will require
for American multi-nationals; the       Fukuyama’s trust construct from             higher levels of cooperation among
initiation of Business for Inclusive    early the 1990s, which was premised         our institutions; no single entity can
Growth focused on fair wages by         on continued upward mobility,               take on these complex challenges
French multi-nationals;                                  guaranteed by a strong     alone. But only about one-third of
and the signing by 177 Ethical attributes                legal structure, and       people believe that business does
multi-nationals to the                                   was the basis of the       a good job of partnering with NGOs
                          drive 76 percent
Business Ambition                                        first Edelman Trust        or government. Currently business
for 1.5°C are definitive of the trust capital            Barometer in the           and government are like children of
steps toward an                                          year 2000. We have         different weights on an unbalanced
                          of global companies, always known that
essential role for                                                                  playground seesaw; government,
business as a means while competence                     people grant their         perceived as both incompetent
of improving society.                                    trust based on two         and unethical, is unable to provide
                          drives 24 percent.
These are incredibly                                     distinct considerations:   the necessary counterbalance to
positive developments,                                   competence and             business, which is considered highly
led by CEOs who understand that         ethical behavior; for two decades           effective but too self-interested.
their mandate has gone beyond           we have asked people if they trust          Business must stop pushing
corporate social responsibility to      institutions “to do what is right.” Now,    government away. An exemplary
fundamental operational change.         based on new societal expectations,         model is Unilever*, which has pledged
                                        we are probing deeper into “what            to cut its use of virgin plastics in half
Business has been prompted to           is right,” measuring purpose, vision,       by 2025, working with partners that
action by the recognition that          honesty and fairness as the                 include the United Nations and the
stakeholders now have new               dimensions of ethical behavior.             Government of Indonesia. All eyes
expectations of the corporate sector.   We have proved the undeniable               are now on the tech industry, which
A stunning 92 percent of employees      importance of these dimensions              will need to be much more open to
surveyed in the 2020 Edelman Trust      for business through our Edelman            forward-looking regulation
Barometer say that they expect their    Trust Management framework. After           of innovation.
employer’s CEO to speak up on one       tracking trust in 40 global companies
or more issues ranging from income      over the past year, we learned that         Business must take the lead on
inequality to diversity and training    ethical attributes drive 76 percent of      solving the trust paradox because
for jobs of the future. Seventy-three   the trust capital of organizations, while   it has the greatest freedom to
percent of employees expect a           competence drives 24 percent.               act. Its immediate mandates are
prospective employer to offer the                                                   clear. An overwhelming number of
opportunity to shape the future of      This year’s Trust Barometer reveals         respondents believe that it is the duty
society in a positive way. Consumers    startling imbalances among the              of business to pay decent wages
share this determination; our 2019 “In  institutions. Business ranks highest        (83 percent) and provide retraining for
Brands We Trust?” study found that      in competence, holding a gigantic           workers whose jobs are threatened
nearly two-thirds of consumers buy      54-point gap over government as an          by automation (79 percent). Yet
based on their beliefs, and 81 percent  institution that is good at what it does.   less than a third of people trust that
agree that “a brand I can trust” is one NGOs are much more trusted on               business will do these. The time for
of their top reasons for purchase.      ethical behavior than government (a         talk is over. 2020 must be the year
Our Edelman 2020 Trust Barometer        31-point gap). Government is trusted        of action.
respondents told us that customers      more than twice as much as business
and employees are over five times       to protect the environment and close
more important to a company’s long-     the income inequality gap.
term success than shareholders.
                                                                                    *Edelman client

A Growing Sense of Inequity
Despite a year of strong global          in business and NGOs among the
                                                                                   Less than

                                                                                   1 in 3
economic performance, trust in           informed public is 15 points higher
the four institutions measured by        than it is for the mass population; for
the Edelman Trust Barometer—             media, the difference is 14 points; for
government, business, NGOs and           government, 12 points.
media—is stagnant, with no institution
climbing into trusted territory.         Skepticism about the fairness of
Business and NGOs remain tied as         our current systems is mounting.          people in
the most trusted for the third year in   The perception is that institutions
a row (each at 58 percent), followed     increasingly serve the interests of
by government and media (each at         the few over everyone. Government,
                                         more than any institution, is seen as
                                                                                   markets believe
49 percent).
                                         least fair; 57 percent of the general     they and their
                                                                                   families will be
Delving beneath the surface, we find     population say government serves
a world of two trust realities. The      the interest of only the few, while 30
informed public—wealthier, more
educated, and frequent consumers
                                         percent say government serves the
                                         interests of everyone.
                                                                                   better off in five
of news—remain far more trusting
                                         Globally, fears about being left
                                                                                   years' time
of every institution than the mass
population, resulting in a record        behind are pervasive. In 21 of 28
number of markets (eight) with           markets, the majority say they agree      people like me losing the respect
                                         with the sentiment, “I worry about        and dignity I once enjoyed in

all-time-high trust inequality. Trust
                                                                                   this country.”

                                                                                   This year, the Trust Barometer
                                                                                   surveyed attitudes on capitalism,
                    Capitalism as it exists today does                             revealing that 56 percent say that
                    more harm than good in the world                               capitalism does more harm than good.
                                                                                   Seventy-eight percent agree that
                                                                                   “elites are getting richer while regular
                                                                                   people struggle to pay their bills.” And
                                                                                   in 15 of 28 markets, the majority are
                                                                                   pessimistic about their financial future,
                                                                                   with most believing they will not be
                                                                                   better off in five years’ time than they
                                                                                   are today. In the U.S., this represents
                                                                                   a seven-point drop in optimism
                                                                                   since 2019.

                                                                                   Doubt that they are reaping their fair
                                                                                   share of the benefits of capitalism is
                                                                                   undermining people’s belief that our
                                                                                   institutions are willing and able change
                                                                                   agents or are working to ensure a
                                                                                   better future for all.

2020 Edelman Trust Barometer

No institution is trusted
                                                                                        Trust     Neutral       Distrust
Percent trust                                                                           60-100    50-59         1-49

                                   NGOs                    Business           Government                     Media

                                            58                      58
                                  57                      57
                                                                                         49                        49
                                                                               48                       48

                                       +1                      +1                   +1                        +1

                              2019 2020                   2019 2020           2019 2020                2019 2020

Trust inequality sets new records
Trust Index
        2020                      2020
        Informed public           Mass population               Trust gap

          Global 28​                   Global 28​                                        Trust     Neutral         Distrust
   65                        51                                      14                  60-100    50-59           1-49

   90     China​             77        China​                        13
                                                                                          Record trust inequality
   87     India​             74        India​                        13

   82     Indonesia​         70        Indonesia​                    12

   80     Saudi Arabia ​     64        UAE​                          11             # of markets                      8
   78     Thailand​          62        Thailand​                     16             with record trust
          UAE​               60                                      11             inequality at an
   75                                  Singapore​
          Mexico​            59                                      21             all-time high
   71                                  Saudi Arabia​
   71     Singapore​         58        Malaysia​                     10

   68     Australia​         58        Mexico​                       13

   68     Malaysia​          57        The Netherlands​              10

   67     Canada​            56        Kenya​                            2

   67     The Netherlands​   52        Colombia​                     10             1
   64     Germany​           51        Canada​                       16

   64     Italy​             49        Brazil ​                          11         2012                           2020
   63     France​            49        Hong Kong​                        5

   62     Colombia​          49        S. Korea​                         1

   60     Argentina​         48        Argentina​                    12             Less than

                                                                                     1 in 5
   60     Brazil​            48        Italy​                        16
   60     Ireland​           45        Australia​                    23
   59     Spain​             45        U.S​.                             8
   58     Kenya​             44        Germany​                      20
   57     UK                 44        S. Africa​                        5          respondents
                                                                                    agree that
   54     Hong Kong​         43        Ireland​                      17
   53     Japan​             42        France​                       21
   53     U.S.​
          S. Korea​
                                                                                    the system
   50                                  Spain​
   49     S. Africa​         39        UK                            18             is working
   41     Russia​            27        Russia​                       14
                                                                                    for them

Fears Eclipse Hopes
Against the backdrop of growing                   61 percent of the general population          I do not have confidence
cynicism around capitalism and the                say the pace of change in technology
fairness of our current economic                  is moving too fast, and the same
                                                                                                that ​our current
systems are deep-seated fears about               number (61 percent) fear that                 leaders will be able ​to
the future. Specifically, 83 percent              government does not know or                   successfully address our

of employees say they fear losing                 understand emerging technologies              country’s challenges.
their job, attributing it to the gig              enough to effectively regulate them.
economy, a looming recession, a lack
of skills, cheaper foreign competitors,           A lack of confidence in societal
immigrants who will work for less,                leaders, the stewards of the future,
automation, or jobs being moved to                is pervasive. In fact, the only people

other countries.                                  who are trusted are scientists, one’s
                                                  fellow citizens, or members of one’s
The pace of change is also a fear;

How much do you trust these people                                                              community—leaving government and
to do what is right?                                                                            religious leaders in distrusted territory
                                                                                                and CEOs in the neutral zone. These
Percent who trust
                                                                                                findings are emblematic of one of the
                                                   Trust        Neutral      Distrust
                                                   60-100       50-59        1-49               major trust trends of the past two
      80                                                                                        decades: the shift from top-down to
                   69           65                                                              horizontal influence.
                                           51       46


    Scientists   Community   Citizens of   CEOs   Religious   Government   The very
                  members    my country            leaders      leaders    wealthy

                                                                                        of employees worry about
                                                                                        losing their jobs to one or
                                                                                        more of these causes



                                                                                           Looming recession                       60
                                                                                              Lack of training
                                                                                             Cheaper foreign
                                                                                                competitors                        55
                                                                                             Immigrants who
                                                                                               work for less                       54

                                                                                                  Automation                       53
                                                                                              Jobs moved to
                                                                                              other countries                      50

2020 Edelman Trust Barometer

The UK: A Parable
of Distrust
                                                                                     It would be a mistake to
                                                                                     think that Brexit alone was
               Ed Williams                a stunning 14 percentage points            to blame for this lack of
               President and              higher than the average for the
               CEO, EMEA                  other members of the G7 group of           trust in our institutions.
                                          advanced economies. Among the UK
In the 2020 Edelman Trust                 general population, it’s 60 percent.       voters were also voting to reject the
Barometer, the UK finds itself                                                       bitter stalemate that had settled on
in its lowest-ever position in the        It would be a mistake to think that        the UK. They backed “doing stuff”
Global Trust Index, just one place        Brexit alone was to blame for this         over more argument. They voted to
off the bottom, with only Russia          lack of trust in our institutions. While   turn the page.
below it. How did the birthplace          Brexit did prove to be the spark that
                                          lit the gunpowder, the conditions          The challenge for our institutions,
of parliamentary democracy, the
                                          were set by years of institutional         whether in Britain, or most developed
“mother of parliaments,” and a
                                          failures - the financial crash; the MPs    countries, is how to respond to the
respected voice of sense on the
                                          expenses scandal; phone hacking            change that citizens from all walks
world stage find itself in such an
                                          and the advent of fake news on social      of life are calling for. Undoubtedly,
unaccustomed place?
                                          platforms, and the Oxfam scandal in        the way in which business and
A toxicity has overtaken the tone         Haiti – that had already rocked trust in   government co-operate will determine
of the UK’s internal conversation.        business, government, media                how they are judged. Their reputations
Politicians of every party,               and NGOs.                                  are inextricably linked in the minds
including the Prime Minister,                                                        of two-thirds of the British public,
have taken to attacking the BBC,          British institutions failed to quickly     and three-quarters of them want to
Britain’s renowned public service         recognize what had happened, the           collaborate to solve social issues.
broadcaster, accusing it of bias.         compounding of these shocks, and
Other parts of the UK media openly        how to respond to it. They were too
                                                                                     2020 Trust Index, UK
attack the judiciary in a nation where    slow. Too bureaucratic. Not agile
the separation of powers has been a       enough. Then, the failure to deliver
given for four centuries. And social      Brexit – which had been an argument         Informed                    Mass
media has become a crucible of            narrowly won by a British desire to            public     Trust gap     population

                                                                                     57                           39
venom, a platform used to abuse,          “Take Back Control” – demonstrated
                                          that the control they had been
to delegitimize and to threaten.
                                          promised was illusory. This turned                           18
Little wonder then that the general       to disillusionment, which in turn
population in Britain now distrusts       injected the poisonous tone into our
its institutions with a trust score of    political discourse and consequently       Incrementalism is no longer enough.
only 42 percent. But the picture isn’t    damaged the informed public’s trust        Instead people are looking for big,
entirely even. Edelman also found         in business and the media too.             bold change to deliver a discernible
a large trust gap between attitudes                                                  improvement in their lives. Quite
of the wealthier, more educated and       In the early hours of December 13th,
                                                                                     possibly, given the erosion of trust
more well-informed in society versus      2019, as the general election results
                                                                                     in democracy and capitalism, it may
the rest (an 18-point gap). Smaller       came in, we found out the response
                                                                                     also mean reform in order to make
than the previous year, but significant   to three years of drift: millions of
                                                                                     the system work better for those our
nevertheless.                             people in the general population who
                                                                                     institutions have left behind. Ultimately,
                                          no longer trusted our institutions
                                                                                     it will require the reimagining of our
But even that doesn’t tell the full       lent their votes instead to a man with
                                                                                     institutions and systems. It is the scale
picture, as the informed public group     issues of his own around trust, though
                                                                                     of that change – economic, political
has some fundamental worries              significantly fewer, it has to be said,
                                                                                     and societal – and the shape of that
of its own. Almost 70 percent of          than his competitor.
                                                                                     reform, that will ultimately determine
them agree with the sentiment that
                                          Boris Johnson won with a simple            whether we can repair trust in our
“democracy is losing its effectiveness
                                          message: “Get Brexit Done.” But            core institutions.
as a form of government.” That is

Trust Is Built on
   Competence and Ethics
   For 20 years, the Edelman Trust           on two key drivers: competence           These scores point to the lack of
   Barometer has gauged trust by             and ethical behavior.                    confidence in leaders’ ability to take on
   asking: “How much do you trust                                                     the most pressing national challenges,
                                             Further examination shows that
   this institution to do what is right?”                                             widespread fears about the future and
                                             today no institution is seen as both
   Taking account of the general                                                      mounting questions about the equity
                                             competent and ethical, explaining
   population’s overall lack of trust and                                             of the systems in place. This latter
                                             stagnating trust in the face of strong
   a pronounced sense of inequity, this                                               sentiment is further underscored by
                                             economic performance. Of the four
   year’s Trust Barometer sought to                                                   the fact that of the components of
                                             institutions, only business is seen
   understand what shapes the public’s                                                ethical behavior—being honest, having
                                             as competent, and only NGOs are
   view of “to do what is right.” The                                                 a vision, being purpose-driven and
                                             viewed as ethical.
   analysis identified that trust is built                                            being fair—fairness, or lack of it, has
                                                                                      the greatest impact on trust.

   Dimensions of trust
   (Competence score, net ethical score)


                                                                               No institution seen
                                                                               as both competent
                                                                                   and ethical
                                             (-4, 12)

LESS              -50                                                                                       50     COMPETENT

                                                  Media                    (14, -2)
                                                  (-17, -7)

                          (-40, -19)



2020 Edelman Trust Barometer
                                                                                          2020 Edelman Trust Barometer

Competence Is Not Enough
                                          NGOs and business are tied, with        dimensions drive the lion's share of
                  Antoine Harary
                                          58 percent of respondents globally      company trust capital.
                  President, Edelman
                  Intelligence            saying they trust each. But a deeper
                                          look reveals that NGOs, while           This ethics shortfall may be
                                          seen as ethical, are not seen as        partially explained by the emphasis
                  Tonia Ries
                                          competent. And business, the only       companies have traditionally placed
                  Global Executive
                  Director, Edelman       institution described as competent,     on communicating their performance,
                  Intellectual Property                                           competence or product quality more
                                          is not seen as ethical. Competence
                                          alone is not enough to create trust     so than their commitment to ethics
Trust must be built through both          in business as an institution.          and integrity, or their purpose and
competence and ethics. For 20                                                     vision for the future. The Edelman
years, the Edelman Trust Barometer        Data from the Edelman Trust             Trust Management data shows
has asked respondents to answer a         Management suite of analytics and       that the proportion of stakeholders
simple question: How much do you          consulting solutions, designed to       who “don’t know enough” to judge
trust each institution to do what is      help global companies measure and       a company’s ethics is significantly
right? This year, our research went       manage their trust capital, confirms    higher than those who are unfamiliar
further, analyzing respondents’           that competence—being good at           with a company’s competence.
ratings of the competence and the         what you do—is not enough to earn
ethics of each institution in more        the benefits of a trust advantage.      At the same time, stakeholder
detail. The reason for the general lack   More than 80 percent of the 600+        expectations have risen. Consumers
of trust? None of the four institutions   companies we have analyzed earn         expect the brands they buy to reflect
measured is seen as both competent        better scores for their competence      their values and beliefs, employees
and ethical.                              than they do for ethics-related trust   want their jobs to give them a
                                          dimensions such as integrity            sense of purpose, and investors are

Ethics:                                   or purpose.                             increasingly focused on sustainability
                                                                                  and other ethical commitments as
                                          The data collected reveals that a       a sign of a company’s long-term
                                          company’s ability—the degree to         operational health and success.
                                          which it is seen as good at what
                                          it does—explains only 24 percent        Business is already recognized for its
                                          of its measurable trust capital. In     ability to get things done. But to earn
                                          comparison, integrity, purpose          trust, companies must make sure
 more important to                        and dependablity drive 76 percent,      that they are acting ethically, and
 company trust than                       making it very clear that more          doing what is right. Because for
 competence                               than competence, ethics-related         today’s stakeholders, competence
                                                                                  is not enough.

Institutions seen as unfair
Percent who cite each as a reason they trust or distrust each institution

   Serves the          Serves the            57
   interests of        interests of                                51
   only the few        everyone equally
                       and fairly
                                                                                                              42   40
                                                   30                    32                  29

                                           Government               Media              Business                 NGOs

Catalyst for Change
In a world of concerns about fairness,   Stakeholders are more important than
the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer
                                         shareholders to long-term company success
points to a clear set of actions for                                                                         Communities
                                         Percent who ranked each group
businesses that want to gain trust.      as most important

Chiefly, business should recognize
                                                                                      Employees         12
the imperative to serve the interests
of all stakeholders; 87 percent say                                                       37
that customers, employees, and
communities are more important than                                                         Customers
shareholders to a company’s long-                                                              38
term success. These beliefs are now
beginning to be acted on by business,
in initiatives like the Business
Roundtable’s endorsement of a            Reflecting the perceived lack of     one or more issues, with training for

multi-stakeholder model for American     leadership on societal issues, 92    jobs of the future at the top of the list.
multi-nationals, and the signing by      percent of employees think it's      When it comes to addressing issues
177 multi-nationals to the Business      important that CEOs speak out on     and shaping the future, engaging
Ambition for 1.5°C, among others.                                             employees in the solution is also
                                                                              critical. Seventy-three percent of
                                                                              employees say they would expect a
                                                                              prospective employer to give them
                                                                              the opportunity to shape the future
                                                                              of society.

                                                                              Business is not expected to go it alone,
                                                                              however, and in some cases would
                                                                              benefit from the trust edge that other

                                                                              institutions have. For instance, when it
                                                                              comes to protecting workers in the gig
                                                                              economy, government is actually more
                                                                              trusted than business (40 percent vs.
                                                                              32 percent)—signifying a need for the
                                                                              leadership and commitment of both.

                                                                              Indeed, across the board,
                                                                              collaboration is key to regaining trust.
                                                                              For business, government and NGOs
                                                                              alike, partnering with other institutions
                                                                              to solve the pressing issues of our
                                                                              time is one of the most important
                                                                              steps to regaining people’s trust—and,
                                                                              in turn, moving the world to a more
                                                                              trusted state.

It is important that my                     training for jobs of the
                                            future • ethical use of tech •
employer’s CEO speak                        automation’s impact on jobs •
out on one or more of                       income inequality • diversity •
these issues:                               climate change • immigration

2020 Edelman Trust Barometer

The Opportunity for Government:
                                          that trust also extends to issues         to welcome regulation and provide
             Lisa Osborne Ross
             President,                   that have the most direct impact on       input on the process because they
             Washington D.C.                                                        understand government’s role in
                                          everyday life, such as inclusion and
                                          reducing income inequality. Even          protecting them, their customers
                                          in sustainability, where business is      and their business.
The outlook for trust in government
                                          generally seen as leading innovation,
in 2020 is alarmingly bleak. Less                                                   Restoring trust in government can
                                          Trust Barometer respondents trust
than half of the respondents to the                                                 also begin at the local level. In 18 of
                                          government the most—more than
2020 Edelman Trust Barometer                                                        24 markets, local government is more
                                          twice as much as business.
trust government to do what is right.                                               trusted than federal government;
Fifty-seven percent say government        Given government’s trust edge on          globally, 69 percent of respondents
serves “the interests of only a few.”     several of the most pressing societal     trust “people in my local community.”
Government leaders are among the          challenges, business should want          These findings may reflect people’s
least trusted people. And on the          to collaborate with government            awareness that their cities and
two central drivers of people’s trust—    on solving them. Our study shows          communities are innovating to
competence and ethics—government          that people trust both institutions       address the issues that impact their
lags far behind the other institutions.   the most to solve the issues of           everyday lives, such as the effects of
                                          workforce retraining and protecting       climate change.
But a closer look behind the numbers
                                          workers in the gig economy. By
reveals several important insights                                                  Finally, we know from experience
                                          making these issues an immediate
for government and perhaps even                                                     that without transparency and
                                          focus in collaboration with business,
a glimmer of hope for the future.                                                   good communication, trust is much
                                          government can overcome the
While the gaps are significant, the                                                 harder earned. Unless government
                                          perception that it serves the interests
opportunities are huge. The way                                                     recognizes the importance of these
                                          of only a few.
forward is for government to revitalize                                             and practices both, people will always
its role as an essential partner to       Regulation also should be viewed as       assume the worst.
business, act and communicate with        a good opportunity for partnership.
more transparency and focus on                                                      I am a firm believer in the promise of
                                          Sixty-one percent of people do not
how it can improve people’s lives in                                                government. My parents were proud
                                          believe that government understands
tangible ways at the local level.                                                   civil servants, I served in government,
                                          emerging technologies enough to
                                                                                    and today my daughter is doing the
                                          regulate them effectively. However,
Government is trusted as a leader in                                                same. Globally, government must
                                          the tech industry should remember
areas that it is typically expected to                                              take the real opportunity before it
                                          that the best government regulation
manage: transportation, immigration,                                                to restore trust now if it expects to
                                          is created in tandem with industry.
social services and protecting people                                               attract the best and brightest problem
                                          In fact, established companies tend
from harmful products. But critically,                                              solvers of the future.

Business and                              Protect workers in the                    Workforce retraining
                                          gig economy                               necessary as a result
                                                                                    of automation
essential on jobs                                   Media                                     Media
                                                     9        NGO                              8        NGO
                                                               18                                        17
Percent who say each institution
is the one they trust most to
address each challenge
                                                                     Business                                 Government
                                               Government              32                  Business               32
                                                   40                                        42

The Necessity of Action
For the first time this year, we       To build trust, address biggest challenges
asked Edelman Trust Barometer
                                       Percent who think each institution is doing well/very well on this issue,
respondents to tell us how well        and potential trust gains associated with doing each well
each institution is doing on a long
                                                                                                               Potential trust gain
list of issues that are challenging
society. The lowest scores (at
                                       NGOs​​                               +13          Business                              +17
right) point to areas that provide
the most room for improvement
                                          Transparency about funding​​      35​​           Partner with NGOs​​                 33​​
in each institution’s performance.
If each institution can address
                                          Expose corruption​​               35​​           Jobs that pay a decent wage​​ 35​​
these challenges—and do them              Avoid becoming politicized​​      35​​           Partner with government​​           37​​
well—they can realize double-digit        Partner with government​​         38​​           Deal with partners fairly​​        40​​
gains in trust.                           Partner with business​​                          Contribute to communities​​        41​​
The most consistent low-scorer                                              +17
                                       Government                                        Media                                +20
among NGOs, business and
government is partnership, with                                                                                                34​​
                                          Reduce partisanship​​             26​​           Keep social media clean​​
each institution not seen as
                                          Partner with NGOs​​               30​​           Being objective​​                   35​​
a good partner to the others.
Collaboration then becomes                Community-level problems​​        31​​           Information quality​​               38​​
a major opportunity for our               Social services for the poor​​    34​​           Important vs. sensationalized​​ 38​​
institutions to advance society—          Partner with business​​           34​​           Differentiate opinion and fact​​ 39
and build trust.

When institutions are trusted,         Trust restores balance and enables partnership
achieving both competence and          (Competence score, net ethical score)
good ethical behavior, as shown
in the graph at right, they are
more in balance and more closely                                                   35
aligned. Government, while still                                                                            NGOs
not as competent as business,                                                                               (29, 34)

now occupies a slightly higher
ethical position than business,
which, in its role as watchdog and                                                                         (25, 22)
regulator, it should ideally hold.                                                                                     Business
                                                                      NGOs                     Government              (35, 16)
In this closer relationship, the                                                               (19, 17)

institutions can more readily         LESS   -50                                                                       50    COMPETENT
collaborate on the pressing           COMPETENT
societal challenges that stoke                                                               Business
people’s fears and work together
toward building the trust that is                                   Media
needed to foster a more stable
and more productive society.                             Government
                                                                                              When institutions
                                                                                              are trusted, they are
                                                                                              more closely aligned


2020 Edelman Trust Barometer

About Edelman
Edelman is a global communications       2019 A-List; the Holmes Report’s 2018
firm that partners with businesses and   Global Digital Agency of the Year; and,
organizations to evolve, promote and     five times, Glassdoor’s Best Places to
protect their brands and reputations.    Work. Since our founding in 1952, we
Our 6,000 people in more than            have remained an independent, family-
60 offices deliver communications        run business. Edelman owns specialty
strategies that give our clients the     companies Edelman Intelligence
confidence to lead and act with          (research) and United Entertainment
certainty, earning the trust of their    Group (entertainment, sports, lifestyle).
                                         Visit edelman.com for
Our honors include the Cannes Lions      more information.
Grand Prix for PR; Advertising Age’s

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