Trust in business on upswing since January, Edelman finds

NEW YORK: The public's trust in companies is on the rise, according to a special Midyear 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer.

NEW YORK: The public's trust in companies is on the rise, according to a special Midyear 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer. The new report finds that 48% of those surveyed in the US said they trust businesses to do what is right, up from 36% in January when the annual Trust Barometer was issued and trust hit a new low in the wake of the global financial meltdown. 

The midyear report also found that trust among the younger population (25- to 34-year-olds) was up, with 58% reporting that they trust businesses.

"There is a recovery in trust in business, and in particular, the rise of 12 points in the US speaks to the fact that those surveyed felt that business is doing what it needs to regain trust," Matthew Harrington, CEO of Edelman US, told PRWeek. "This is good news and a good direction, but I also think we're just at the beginning of the re-set of the economy and that we can't declare victory for trust in business or trust in government."

At the same time, though, only 30% of respondents describe the reputation of large multinational corporations as good or excellent, compared to 52% who describe the reputation as fair or poor.

The Trust Barometer also analyzed which actions are helping businesses gain back trust. Repaying bailout money (81%), reducing CEO pay (80%), and firing non-performing management teams (78%) were the top ways companies are showing their desire to gain back trust.

Harrington also found the data on stakeholders interesting, as respondents said customers were the top stakeholders, followed by employees, and then investors.

"The whole concept of shareholders being really toward the lower end of priority on the stakeholders, that's a big shift for society," he said. "It really is moving it from a shareholders' society to a stakeholders' society."

The respondents in the Edelman Trust Barometer are college-educated; they read or watch business and news media; follow public policy issues; and have household income in the top quartile for their age in their country. The study sampled 1,675 respondents in six countries and in two age groups: 25-34 and 35-64.

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