If you trust business more than you trust the government, you’re in the majority, according to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer
That’s actually been the case for the past five years or so, but the gap in global trust is the largest it’s ever been. In this year’s study, only 44 percent of respondents said they trust their government, while 58 percent said they trust business. In almost half of the 27 countries surveyed, including the United States, the difference was as many as 20 percentage points. In some, it reached up to 40.
“Business may interpret this as the moment to push for deregulation, as it did a decade ago,” according to Edelman President and CEO Richard Edelman’s blog post about the study. “That would be a monumental error in judgment.”
Edelman’s survey results bear that out. People may trust business more than government, but they almost universally want more regulation of food, energy, the financial sector, and other industries. About 42 percent of respondents said there isn’t enough regulation, while only 27 percent said there’s too much.
So how should businesses interpret the results? Edelman suggests it’s an opportunity to “ascend the ‘bully pulpit.’”
Our research shows clearly there now is an opportunity for business to make its case for change, as 79 percent believe business should be involved in formulating regulation in such industries as energy and food, while a majority feels government cannot go it alone. Eighty-four percent of respondents believe that business can pursue its self-interest while doing good work for society.
The responsibility lies chiefly on the shoulders of CEOs, Edelman says. They have to become “chief engagement officers” and take their cases to the public. “The CEO must have the courage to hear what is being said in the debate and be willing to change accordingly,” he writes.
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Academics, employees, trade groups, nonprofit organizations, and technical experts should all be part of the discussion, too, he suggests. And that’s what the process should be: a discussion.
“The new normal is consensus found between information conveyed top down from authoritative institutions, matched with the more personal, peer-to-peer horizontal flow of knowledge,” Edelman writes.