Top insights from the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer:

According to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer findings, one key takeaway has been made clear: Australia’s trust bubble has officially burst.

A key source of intelligence regarding the state of the global community’s trust in various institutions, from government to media, the Edelman Trust Barometer is seen as a pulse check on the current state of public trust and is a vital piece of information for anyone working in public purpose work.

But – what insights does the latest report include?

As mentioned at the start of our article, the key insight from the latest report is that trust has experienced steep declines across all industries.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer website, only 52% of Australians say they trust government to do the right thing (-9 points year-on-year), 58% trusting each business (-5 points) and NGOs (-4 points).

Media, which saw a notable surge in trust in 2021, fell by 8 points to 43%, making it the only institution in Australia distrusted by the majority of the population.  See image below.




















Another insight is that people are not trusting of government or media…which has been played out across the western world.  Only 43% of Australians trusting both government leaders and CEOs, falling 9 and 5 points year-on-year, respectively.

Moreover, most Australians believe that journalists (65%), government leaders (61%) and business leaders (61%) are actively trying to mislead them by saying things they know are false or grossly exaggerated.

Trust in all media sources has fallen, with traditional media only trusted by 48% of Australians, search engines by 47%, owned media by 33% and social media by only 24% of Australians. Not surprisingly, Australians’ concerns about disinformation and fake news remain high with 73% worried about false information or fake news being used as a weapon.

 Trust became local…and personal…

 Over the past year, communities in particular states around Australia became very parochial; largely in part due to individualised state responses to the COVID-19 pandemic policy responses (eg. Lockdowns).

Additionally, people came to hold a deep sense of trust with those people closest to them, their CEO, people in their local community, co-workers, scientists etc.  These figureheads sit at the opposite end of the trust spectrum to the likes of journalists and media.

Employers became a source of truth that people actually listened to…

 A key learning from the latest report is that employers shouldn’t underestimate their influence.  Additionally, they shouldn’t underestimate the power and influence of internal communications and internal stakeholder engagement.  They are powerful tools in enabling trust.

This is evident in the report with nearly three quarters of Australian employees (74%) saying they their employer, compared to 58% who trust business in general. Employers’ communications are also highly trusted (70%), eclipsing communications from government (63%), media reports with named sources (58%) and advertising (51%).

Additionally, the societal role of business is here to stay, businesses have a responsibility to contribute and progress societal issues; but businesses must demonstrate this progress, not just talk about it.  Based on the latest report, fifty-six per cent of Australian consumers will buy or advocate for brands based on their belief and values; 57% of Australian employees will choose a place to work based on their beliefs and values, and 64% of investors make financial decisions based on their beliefs and values.

Based on the above, and for those of us who work in public purpose work, some key questions to consider are:

  • How can you build trust with your communities?
  • How can you facilitate a more localised approach to action and communication?
  • How can we work with the broader public purpose sector to drive positive work thus forging trust?
  • How can internal communications be improved so that employees continue to feel a strong sense of trust?

These questions are important to ask yourself and your leadership now, and into the coming months and years to ensure that your communities hold a positive sense of trust in you and your public purpose organisation.

For more details on the Edelman Trust Barometer, and to read the full report, please visit their website here.

 About the Edelman Trust Barometer:

Edelman is a global communications firm that partners with businesses and organizations to evolve, promote and protect their brands and reputations. They have 6,000 people in more than 60 offices delivering communications strategies that give their clients the confidence to lead and act with certainty, earning the trust of their stakeholders.

Since their founding in 1952 by Dan Edelman, they have remained an independent, family-run company. They use their profits to strengthen their business, provide their employees with opportunities to grow, advance their industry, and serve as a responsible citizen of the world. Every day, they strive to live and work by a long-held set of core values: the pursuit of excellence, the freedom to be curious, the courage to do the right thing, and a commitment to improving society.

The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer is their 22nd annual trust and credibility survey. The survey was powered by Edelman Data & Intelligence (DxI) and consisted of 30-minute online interviews conducted between November 1 and November 24, 2021.


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