Building public trust in business—still a long way to go

GlobeScan regularly tracks the level of trust that people around the world have in different institutions—in global and national businesses, governments, NGOs, the media, and others. Our recent research show that trust in business to operate in the best interests of society remains low—and finds that, while trust has increased somewhat in recent years, business continues to suffer from a significant trust deficit compared to the non-profit sector.
To investigate further, we asked people around the world to say what business had done to earn their trust recently. The word cloud derived from their responses starkly illustrates the cynicism that many feel, with the most common response, by far, being that companies have done “nothing” to earn trust. Those who are able to name a trust-building accomplishment most commonly cite the benefits to society that come from employment and from higher-quality products and services. This lack of awareness highlights how difficult it is for corporate CSR initiatives to “cut through” to the wider public: words such as “social,” “charity,” or “environment” are much less prominent in the cloud.
However, the picture diverges sharply between the world’s major industrialized economies, where cynicism about the motives of business dominates, and emerging economies, where the increased corporate activity associated with rapid economic growth also raises the profile of companies’ social investment, infrastructure projects, and environmental initiatives, as well as job creation.
Next week’s Featured Finding will look at trust in NGOs.
Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 2, 2011
This post was written by former GlobeScan Research Director, Sam Mountford.