Trust is a fundamental ingredient of any kind of relationship. It touches every area of business and it is key for the success and growth of companies. We live in an era where misinformation runs rampant and individual perceptions prevail, while old and new risks combine globally and digital security is constantly under threat. Now more than ever, stakeholders expect that organisations take the right actions.
Every year, the Edelman Trust Barometer measures trust in four institutions – government, media, business, and NGOs. The annual study surveys over 33,000 individuals in 28 countries to understand the public’s perception of trust across different markets and demographic groups.
The 2023 edition of the global report was released just last month and provides valuable insights into the current state of trust and how it has changed since the previous year. Giving a comprehensive overview of the key trends, challenges, and opportunities facing the world today, the Edelman Trust Barometer offers recommendations for organisations and leaders to build and maintain trust with their stakeholders.
Focusing on data about business institutions and companies, the report highlights that the private sector must act to maintain its position as the most trusted institution, especially in the current volatile world where all organisations are being tested.
But what should businesses do to maintain their level of trust?
• Push back against polarization and promote rational policies
• Work with other institutions to find pragmatic solutions
• Promote civil discourse by engaging employees
• Distribute trustworthy information. CEOs must lead the way by using their convening power, creating a safe workplace for employees to engage with leaders, and raising the integrity of their content by not spreading disinformation.
Drawing on local survey responses, the global report was followed by an Italy-focused research study. According to this report, in Italy all four institutions – Government, Business, Media, and NGOs – are not perceived as excelling in competence and ethics.
However, the level of ethics in business continues to rise by registering an impressive 19 points growth since 2020. Italians still see “their employer” as the most trustworthy figure – and this makes even clearer that greater commitment is expected from the business world and CEOs, especially with regard to the most felt social issues such as the working conditions of employees (91 percent), the effects of climate change (83 percent) and discrimination (83 percent).
Focusing on the business institutions and on the role of companies and their CEOs, there are three issues that Italians expect CEOs to work on to revive optimism in the marketplace: fairer salaries (77 percent), investment in employee training (73 percent), and ensuring well-being and safety for the community they belong to (70 percent).
According to this scenario, the Edelman Trust Barometer Italy 2023 provides the following suggestions for “navigating a polarised world”:
• Business organisations should continue to lead by leveraging their comparative advantage to address important issues such as climate change, diversity, and skill training and help restore economic optimism.
• Businesses and governments should collaborate to deliver solutions and push towards a more just, secure, and thriving society.
• Businesses should advocate for the truth by being a source of reliable information, promoting civil discourse, and holding false information sources accountable through corrective measures.
Both in Italy and worldwide, the technology industry remains the most trusted business sector. The report results highlight that trust in the tech field had an increase of one point globally (75 points in 2023 vs. 74 in 2022), while registering a slight decrease of one point in Italy (72 points in 2023). This trend outlines a general stability, indicating that as technology continues to advance and permeate every aspect of our lives, people continue to trust it and consider it safe and reliable.
Similarly, we see an increase in trust in the financial services industry, which registered +1 point globally (59 points vs. 58 points in 2022) and remains stable in Italy. This is not only interesting for our industry, but also crucial for the stability and growth of the global economy. It is especially noteworthy when looking at the bigger picture, with the challenging economic conditions and financial disruptions that have occurred in recent years.
Especially now, it is really up to us to take a central role and collaborate with governments, institutions and our partners in order to become drivers for the development and innovation of the industries we operate in.