The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer, Edelman’s 13th annual trust and credibility survey and second annual Trust study in Malaysia, showed double digit increase in trust in both Government and Media, with an overall trust score of 60% each.
While the overall trust scores were generally higher, it is pertinent to note the trust gap between key institutions and leadership, pointing to a potential crisis in leadership. According to the findings, while the general population respondents trust business, only 26% trust business leaders to tell the truth. Mirroring this, only 21% trust government leaders to tell the truth.
Globally, corruption or fraud and wrong incentives driving business and policy decisions were cited as key reasons for distrust in business and government. Additionally, poor performance and incompetence were also a leading factor in trusting government less.
As a repeat of last year – both globally and in Malaysia – the study found CEOs and government officials or regulators among the least credible spokespeople. Malaysian respondents have reiterated that when they are forming an opinion, information from an academic or technical expert and peers are the most credible over CEOs and Government officials.
Technology continued to be the most trusted industry in Malaysia (85%) with Banks a close second (82%). Trust in the Energy industry registered the biggest jump, moving up in ranking 6 notches to come in third (81%). Brewing and Spirits (56%) and Media (66%) remained the least trusted of the industries measured, although both industries saw double digit growth, increasing trust from 33% to 56% (Brewing and Spirits) and 51% to 66% (Media) respectively, compared to just a year ago.
In terms of Multinational Corporations, Malaysians place a higher trust in companies headquartered in Germany, Canada and Sweden over companies headquartered in the emerging markets of Brazil, China and India. Following trends across Asia Pacific, Malaysians also trust Big Businesses more over Small Businesses.
For communicators, in terms of general news and information, Malaysians in the general public trust information resulting from online search engines highest, followed by traditional and social media. What is apparent here is that the online space, encompassing both digital and social media, cannot be ignored as trusted sources of information. The high trust scores in ‘owned media’ point to an urgent need for all organisations to fully update and utilise their corporate assets such as web portals, newsletters, YouTube and even Twitter to disseminate information.
The research reveals there are 16 specific attributes which build trust. These can be grouped into 5 distinct Trust Performance Clusters: Engagement, Integrity, Products & Services, Purpose and Operations. Together, these 5 Trust Performance Clusters form the Trust DNA profile of any organisation. Crafting strategies that build upon these performance clusters and internalising the Trust DNA into the organisational structure and culture is a step towards building increased trust stronger relationships with all stakeholders.
Raymond Siva, managing director of Edelman Malaysia, said, “The Malaysia findings of the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer clearly demonstrate that Malaysians are expecting organisations to deliver on societal attributes over the expected operational attributes in order to gain their trust. It is apparent that influence and authority are moving away from CEOs and government leaders to experts and peers. This means that both business and government leaders must change their management approach to become more inclusive by seeking the input of employees, consumers, activists and experts such as academics, and adapting to their feedback.
“The dynamics of trust have evolved from the traditional Pyramid of Influence, in which information is a monologue, controlled and dictated by a few, to a more complex Diamond of Influence where information is a dialogue, co-created by many to empower. In this environment where trust is still fragile, this is a clear opportunity for business and government to re-claim the license to lead,” said Siva.
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