The 2020 Trust Barometer is Edelman’s 20th annual trust and credibility survey. The research is conducted by Edelman Intelligence, a global insight and analytics consultancy. This year, Edelman researchers surveyed 34,000 respondents in 28 markets, expanded to include Thailand and Kenya for the first time, sampling the general population as much as possible.
The 20th anniversary edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that trust in the Middle East remains high. This year, for both the UAE and KSA, government remains the most trusted of all four institutions, above businesses, NGOs and the media.
Trust in the Government is evidenced by 55 per cent of respondents in the UAE and 60 per cent of respondents in KSA who believe it serves the interests of everyone equally and fairly. The Government also ranks highest in competence and ethics, doing best at international alliances and defence, safe and modern infrastructure and regulating emerging tech.
Meanwhile, societal leaders face significant challenges in the UAE and KSA, with 52 per cent and 43 per cent respectively of respondents saying they do not have confidence that our current societal leaders will be able to address the countries challenges successfully. When asked about competence and ethics, the ranking of media has declined regionally, with many respondents indicating it serves the interests of only the few and less have trust that it serves the interests of everyone equally and fairly.
Omar Qirem, CEO, Edelman Middle East, said: “Trust in 2020 is increasingly local, employees expect to be heard and overwhelmingly expect the opportunity to shape the future of society. As business leaders, CEOs must take a strong lead, with more than 92 per cent of respondents in the region saying it is important that they speak out on key issues, and more than 70 per cent saying CEOs should take the lead on change rather than waiting for Government to impose it. That being said, the UAE and KSA both benefit from strong leadership and trust in Government – unlike other parts of the world.”
Qirem continued: “In 2020, ethical drivers are three times more important to company trust than competence, with 73 per cent in the UAE and 65 per cent in KSA indicating a company can take actions that both increase profits and improve conditions in communities where it operates. These findings confirm that trust is undeniably linked to doing what is right – a key consideration for business leaders looking to the future.”
The Spring Update to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, government trust globally surged 11 points to an all-time high of 65 per cent, making it the most trusted institution globally for the first time in our 20 years of study.
In Saudi Arabia, the government’s swift response to curb the impact of the pandemic on citizens and residents raised their trust levels to 83 per cent and showing that respondents in Saudi Arabia want the government to lead in all areas of the pandemic response: containing the pandemic (71 percent); helping people cope with the pandemic (75 percent); informing the public (71 percent); providing economic relief and support (84 percent); and most importantly, getting the country back to normal (78 percent).
Omar Qirem observed: “Trust in government in Saudi Arabia has witnessed consistent growth since 2019 and is a true testament to the efforts put in place by the Kingdom to fight this pandemic. While government has taken the lead, now is the time for business to step up and do more as the focus shifts to protecting and reopening the economy.”
Despite a four-point increase in trust in business globally and several high-profile actions taken by companies and CEOs to help those in need, there is marked disappointment in how the private sector has performed globally during the crisis.
Seen as a moment of reckoning for businesses, the Spring Update shows that majority (70 percent) of respondents in Saudi Arabia want CEOs to take the lead on addressing the pandemic rather than waiting for government to impose restrictions and demands on their businesses. Despite several high-profile actions taken by companies and CEOs to aid those in need, the study reveals several areas of concern for both.
The KSA Spring Update highlights that it is imperative for institutions to take tangible action to preserve trust for the long-term. People believe it is vital for business and CEOs in the Kingdom to partner with government to shape a better future instead of working to keep government regulation to a minimum. A majority (71 percent) of respondents in Saudi Arabia want CEOs to proactively engage in conversations with government to regulate their companies in ways that protect people and the planet, while giving them the flexibility to innovate, respond to a crisis, and meet growing needs for their products or services.
Business and government must continue to collaborate on solutions and business must live up to its multi-stakeholder promise, with CEO’s showcasing strong public leadership in the years to come.
The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer indicates that building trust for the future requires paying fair wages, focusing on education and retraining, embracing an all-stakeholders model and fostering partnerships across institutions.
Other key findings from the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer include:
- The informed public trusts all four institutions: Government (81%), Business (78%), NGOs (76%); and Media (64%)
- 94% believe that CEOs should be vocal on issues such as training for jobs of the future, automation’s impact on jobs, technology’s impact on ethics, privacy, climate change
- Nearly three in four believe that CEOs should be leading on change, rather than waiting for the government to step in—a nine-point increase in the last year
- In addition to their personal economic and job loss fears (84% worry about losing their job), people report a general sense that the pace of change, particularly with technology, is happening too fast (70%)
- The informed public trusts all four institutions: Government (87%), Business (85%), NGOs (79%); and Media (69%)
- Interestingly, all institutions except media are seen as both competent and ethical
- 68% of respondents believe that they will be better off in five years’ time and overall the view for the future is far more optimisitc than other markets
- However 57% worry technology will make it impossible to know if what people are seeing or hearing is real
- 92% believe that CEOs should be vocal on issues such as training for jobs of the future, automation’s impact on jobs, technology’s impact on ethics, privacy, climate change and 77% expect their employers to shape the future of society
- As evidenced in the Spring update, in the wake of Covid the Saudi Government scored the highest in comparison to other national governments surveyed on their performance in response to the pandemic.
- The Spring report shows that majority (70 percent) of respondents in Saudi Arabia want CEOs to take the lead on addressing the pandemic rather than waiting for government to impose restrictions and demands on their businesses
- About half the respondents in Saudi Arabia believe since Covid business is either doing well or very well at putting people before profits (50 percent), implementing safety measures to protect workers and customers (57 percent) and at protecting their employee’s financial wellbeing and safeguarding their jobs (49 percent).