WEDNESDAY 3 MAR 2021 11:15 AM


Trust in business, government, NGOs and the media has declined over the past year, according to the UK supplement of the Edelman Trust Barometer, the annual survey on trust, produced by global communications firm Edelman. Despite the overall decline, business is the most trusted pillar of society and employer media is seen as the most believable news source.

The annual survey, now in its 21st year, showed that 63% of those surveyed will automatically believe once or twice-seen information from their employer. This compared with 61% who will believe information from the government, 58% believing named sources in the media and only 28% believing their own social media channels.

While business was the only pillar showing a positive show of trust, there was a general understanding that this needed to be earned, with nearly two thirds of saying that CEOs should take the lead on change rather than waiting for government to impose change on them. Respondents also felt CEOs should hold themselves accountable to the public and not just to the board of directors or shareholders.

The biggest casualty in the trust barometer was mainstream media, with seven out of ten of those surveyed feeling the media was letting them down in objective reporting. Over half felt that most news organisations were more concerned with supporting an ideology or a political position than with informing the public.

Edelman launch this year’s research with an online event that invited comments from a panel of guests that included media owner Andrew Neil, Baroness Nicky Morgan and Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon. Commenting on the trust in business, Mahon noted that “During the pandemic people have been able to speak to their CEOs in a way that has been stronger than at any time before. They can see their leaders and check to see if theyre fulfilling their promises”.

“With business the most trusted institution in the UK, CEOs have a big mandate to show leadership and step into the void left by government. There is also a weight of public expectation on their shoulders. Companies cannot afford to have a transactional relationship with society – they must demonstrate mutual benefit and make a greater contribution to society,” Hugh Taggart, Edelman’s UK head of corporate affairs & its global head of crisis.

The Edelman Trust Barometer is available from