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Edelman trust indexNEW YORK: As PwC reports a decline in confidence among CEOs in global economic growth, there's been a coincident drop in trust in their behavior and the companies they run.

According to its 15th annual survey, PR company Edelman says trust in CEOs "as a credible spokesperson" has fallen for the third year in a row and is now at 31 percent in developed markets while in corporations it is now below 50 percent - the worst showing since 2008. The largest drops in corporate mistrust are in Canada (15 points to 47 percent); Germany (12 points to 45 percent); Australia (11 points to 48 percent) and Singapore (10 points to 61 percent).

Following a pattern seen in previous years, Edelman says companies headquartered in BRIC countries remain among the most distrusted of businesses: Brazil, China, Russia, India and Mexico all recorded trust levels well below 50 percent - a stark contrast to Sweden, Canada, Germany and Switzerland that registered as high as 76 percent.

Globally, CEOs (43 percent) and government officials (38 percent) continue to be the least credible sources, lagging far behind academic or industry experts (70 percent) says the survey.

"There has been a startling decrease in trust across all institutions driven by the unpredictable and unimaginable events of 2014," said Edelman CEO Richard Edelman: "The spread of Ebola in West Africa; the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, plus two subsequent air disasters; the arrests of top Chinese Government officials; the foreign exchange rate rigging by six global banks; and numerous data breaches, most recently at Sony Pictures by a sovereign nation, have shaken confidence."

Other key findings in this year's trust survey include: government remains the least trusted institution for the fourth consecutive year, with trust levels below 50 percent in 19 of 27 countries, including the U.S. (41 percent), U.K. (43 percent) and Japan (40 percent). Top of the list of trusted governments is the UAE followed by Indonesia, India, China, Singapore and the Netherlands.

Media as an institution is distrusted by 60 percent of countries and for the first time, online search engines are now a more trusted source for general news and information (64 percent) than traditional media (62 percent).

Edelman says its latest findings reveal that trust carries important implications for future business success: The 27,000 survey respondents said that trust, or lack of trust, in a particular company has influenced their behavior in the previous 12 months. Namely, 80 percent of respondents said that they chose to buy a particular product or service because they trusted the company producing it, while 63 percent said they refused to do so because they didn't trust the business.

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