The 17th Edelman Trust Barometer, a global survey of people across 28 countries, has revealed the largest ever global drop in trust across the four key institutions of government, business, media and NGOs, as fear and disillusionment propel populism to centre stage.
Trust has declined in Australia’s four key institutions of business, media, government and NGOs. Three out of the four institutions are now considered ‘distrusted’ with trust in government experiencing a fall of 8 per cent to 37 per cent, the second largest drop of all countries surveyed. Meanwhile, trust in media has fallen by 10 points in the past year to an all-time low of 32 per cent, among one of the lowest levels in the world and 11 points below the global average.
As institutional trust declines, the 2017 Trust Barometer finds that the majority of Australians (59 per cent) believe that the current system is failing them – they report a sense of injustice, lack of hope, lack of confidence and a desire for change. Only 11 per cent of Australians believe that the system is working.
“The implications of the global trust crisis are deep and wide-ranging,” said Steve Spurr, CEO of Edelman Australia.
“Already evident across the globe, is a noticeable shift towards protectionism and policies which favour the domestic and distance the global – addressing clear concerns coming from the population. The top three concerns are globalisation (71 per cent), eroding social values (62 per cent) and immigration (60 per cent).”
Expectations of business remain high with the general population identifying the importance of attributes for building trust in business as treating employees well (64 per cent), paying its fair share of taxes (63 per cent), and having ethical business practices (62 per cent).
The Edelman Trust Barometer found that 77 per cent of Australians agree that a company can take specific actions that ‘both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the community where it operates’.
“Business is at a critical juncture where it has the opportunity to rebuild trust but can only do so by responding to the concerns and fears of Australians and accepting the need to do things differently,” Spurr added.
“An overwhelming 63 per cent of Australians want businesses to pay their fair share of taxes, they want them to have ethical business practices and to treat their employees well. It’s time for companies to do more. Business leaders must stand up for issues that matter to society.”