CEO credibility is in decline and half those surveyed believe the system is failing them

New Zealand, Thursday 26 January 2017 – Latest findings from the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals trust in business, government, NGOs and media is in crisis. A global trust implosion has seen trust in media fall to all-time lows in 17 countries at 43% globally, while trust in government has also dropped in 14 markets to 41%.

The credibility of leaders is also in decline. CEO credibility dropped 12 points globally to its lowest-ever level of 37%, plummeting in every country studied, while government leaders (29%) remain least credible.

The research shows more than half of the 33,000 respondents believe the overall system has failed them – it is unfair and offers little hope for the future – while only 15% believe it is working and about one-third are uncertain. That mistrust extends to elites with 51% of top quartile income, tertiary educated, well-informed individuals agreeing the system has failed.

“The implications of the global trust crisis are deep and wide-ranging,” said Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman. “It began with the Great Recession of 2008, but like the second and third waves of a tsunami, globalisation and technological change have further weakened people’s trust in global institutions. The consequence is virulent populism and nationalism as the mass population has taken control away from the elites.”

This is reflected by current populist movements which are being fueled by a lack of trust in the system and economic and societal fears, including corruption (40%), immigration (28%), globalisation (27%), eroding social values (25%) and the pace of innovation (22%). This is evidenced by the findings from the UK, US and Italy where a lack of faith in the system combined with these fears has seen the election of Donald Trump, the Brexit vote and the failed Italian referendum.

Distrust is being magnified by the emergence of a media echo chamber that reinforces personal beliefs while shutting out opposing points of view. Respondents favour search engines (59%) over human editors (41%) and are nearly four times more likely to ignore information that supports a position they do not believe in. Furthermore there is evidence of a further dispersion of authority, ‘a person like me’ is now just as credible a source of information about a company as a technical or academic expert and far more credible than a CEO and government official.

People view business as the only institution of the four that can make a difference. Three out of four respondents agree a company can take actions to both increase profits and improve economic and social conditions in the community where it operates in addition to its core business-as-usual operations.

A concern for businesses however is the perceived role the public sees it playing stoking their fears. The majority of the global population surveyed worries about losing their jobs due to the impacts of globalisation (60%), lack of training or skills (60%), immigrants who work for less (58%), jobs moving to cheaper markets (55%) and automation (54%).

Article published by Acumen Republic.

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