Edelman recently released its 20th annual Trust Barometer; with the results pushing Australia into a full decade of distrust.
Among the general population, 47% of Australians are shown to distrust the four measured institutions – government, media, NGOs and business – compared to 48% in 2019.
Despite this trend, Australians believe that business is best placed than other institutions to ‘get things done’ including generating value for their owners (54%), driving economic prosperity (46%) and leading innovation (43%).
Ethics and competency are fundamental elements of trust and while no institution is seen as both ethical and competent, business is the only institution perceived as competent. This aligns to growing public demand for business to play a larger role in solving the pressing environmental and social issues facing the nation. In fact, 78% of survey participants believe that CEOs should take the lead on climate change, rather than waiting for governments to enforce it.
Following the devastating bushfires over the summer period, a supplementary study of the Trust Barometer was implemented to understand whether the public’s trust had shifted in the wake of disaster. The study showed that among the informed public, Australia’s Trust Index fell from an all-time high of 68-points to 59-points, a 9-point decrease in just three months.
It is clear the role of business in society is shifting, with the public turning to industry to play a role in the climate crisis and the associated social issues that come along with it. 70% of participants believe in a key shared value principle – that a company can take action that both increase profits and improve the communities in which it operates.
A key trust building opportunity has emerged from this year’s report; the opportunity for institutions to work together. One of the most consistently low scores for NGOs, business and government is on partnership with each institution not seen as a good partner to the others.
With the resources of business, the regulatory power of government and the subject matter expertise of NGOs – institutions can together transition Australia into a period of unprecedented innovation.