Canadians trust businesses, but not their CEOs: Edelman
February 12, 2013 | Rebecca Harris | Comments
Study says we trust institutions more and more, but business leaders need to step up
Canada’s trust in business, government and media is inching upwards, according to a new report from public relations firm Edelman.
The 2013 Trust Barometer, which surveyed 31,000 people globally, found that Canadian institutions have been doing something right over the last 12 months.
• 58% of Canadians trust government to do what is right, up from 56% in 2012
• 58% trust business, up from 56%
• 61% trust media, up from 54%
• 73% trust NGOs, up from 66%
Two factors have driven the increases, said John Clinton, CEO of Edelman Canada. “One is [that] the economy has performed pretty well, particularly relative to how other economies have performed.”
Secondly, Canadians’ trust in banking “has had a halo effect on trust [overall],” said Clinton, noting that Canada was one of only two countries where trust in banking has gone up.
In 2013, 59% of Canadians surveyed said they trust banks, up from 49% in 2008. China leads the way, with 83% of respondents trusting banks, up from 72% in 2008. Globally, 45% of those surveyed trust banks, compared to 56% in 2008.
When it comes to trustworthy spokespeople, CEOs ranked at the bottom of the list – just 35% of Canadians believing CEOs are a credible source of information and 45% believing government officials or regulators are credible. Academics and experts rank highest (80%), followed by a technical expert in a given company (68%) and a “person like yourself” (58%).
“There is truly a crisis in leadership,” said Clinton. “It makes sense that you trust the academics and experts. It’s a little scary that you don’t trust your CEOs and you don’t trust your government officials.”
The study found “huge gaps” between what is considered important for business and how it actually performs, added Clinton. For example, 71% of Canadians said listening to customers’ needs is important, but only 30% feel companies deliver on that. Furthermore, 61% said it’s important for businesses to “communicate frequently and honestly on the state of its business” but only 20% said companies actually do so.
The findings emphasize the need for companies to talk about the factors that build trust, such as integrity and engagement, said Clinton. “It’s not saying that all companies don’t engage or have integrity. They’re just not doing a very good job of talking about those things.”
Other key findings are:
• Among Canadian business sectors, the technology sector is the most trusted (75%), followed by brewing and spirits (72%), automotive (69%), food and beverage (67%) and consumer packaged goods (63%).
• Globally, Canada is the most trusted national identity for companies, with 76% of respondents saying they trust Canadian-headquartered companies the most. This is followed by Germany (75%), Sweden (74%), Switzerland (74%) and the U.K. (70%).
• 78% of Canadians trust small business, compared to 56% who trust big business.
• 65% of Canadians trust mainstream media for general news and information, compared to 28% who trust social media and 34% who trust owned media for general news and information.
The thirteenth edition of the study, conducted by research firm Edelman Berland, surveyed respondents between 25-64 in 26 countries. All participants were college educated, had household income in the top quartile for their age in their country, read or watched business/news media at least several times a week, and followed public policy issues in the news at least several times a week. Surveys were conducted online in October and November 2012.