A new low for trust in UK business

People’s trust in business, the media and NGOs in the UK is falling. This is according to the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer. In particular, NGOs are failing to inspire, with trust in them dropping by 16 points to 51 per cent. The dip in public trust has helped place UK as one of the 13 most distrusted countries in the 27-country study, only just above Russia.

Trust in Institutions 2008-2015

Business has a trust score of 52 per cent, four points lower than last year, and media has a trust score of just 38 per cent, three points down. This is despite an improving economy. Ed Williams, UK and Ireland CEO of PR firm Edelman says: “Key institutions in the UK such as government, media and business, have had a better year than previous years, but this has not been converted into increased levels of trust. There is no doubt that we are stuck in a rut. There is a real danger that the years of continuing low trust have permanently rewired our attitudes towards the institutions that shape our lives. It is becoming increasingly difficult for us to navigate out of the trust doldrums.”

Trust in Business

Looking at how UK business can rebuild public faith, the study indicates that the issue of companies paying their tax fairly is the most important, along with “responsible behaviour”. These both score 42 per cent. The next biggest issue is “providing consistent levels of service and quality”, at 30 per cent.

Industry Sectors: Trust in Industries 2014 VS 2015, declines compared to 2014

Ben Boyd, president, practices, sectors and offerings at Edelman, suggests three key actions that global business must do to improve trust:

Solve: Business must continue to apply its unparalleled perspective and skill to the world’s greatest problems. Enterprise must bring ideas and products to markets that yield benefit, whilst ensuring the public sees the connection between new developments and societal benefit. Innovative product and service solutions should be recognised by stakeholders as more than profit-drivers. 

Behave: Fundamentally, business must conduct itself with new rigour and self-awareness. A commitment to robust relationships, transparency and consistency in reporting, active listening to stakeholders’ concerns and a willingness to modify products and services is required. Ultimately this is an action of leadership, culture and conduct. 

Engage: Business must adopt a new framework rooted in facilitating dialogue, sharing information and fostering collaboration. Realising that new developments do not speak for themselves, enterprises must actively engage a broad range of stakeholders to facilitate greater understanding through stories that reach and touch their audiences.


The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer is the firm’s 15th annual trust and credibility survey. The 2015 Trust Barometer UK Supplement was fielded online from 12-13 January 2015 to 1,000 of the general population. For more information visit www.edelman.com/trust2015

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