Edelman Trust Barometer 2021 - Australians are world leaders when it comes to trust

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 19 February 2021

The Edelman Trust Barometer for 2021 shows that trust across all Australian institutions has reached an all-time high.

And Australia’s composite trust index recorded the largest gain globally (+12 points) of the 28 countries surveyed.

Australians have increased trust for business (+11 points), government (+17 points), NGOs (+8 points) and media (+12 points).

Employers are seen as one of the most trusted institutions, with 78% trusting their employer over business generally (63%), NGOs (62%), government (61%) and media (51%).

“As the world transformed in response to the pandemic, Australians more than ever turned to their employers for guidance, reassurance and information they can trust," says Michelle Hutton, CEO Australia and vice chair of Asia Pacific, Edelman.

"The workplace-home divide has been broken down, and employers have embraced a new role in their employee’s lives.

"In an environment that demanded empathy and transparency, a strong bond of trust has resulted between organisations and their people.

"Having forged this bond, the opportunity exists for business to leverage this bond to enrich their culture and drive deeper engagement in the post-COVID era.

"Our study also shows that Australians are looking to their employers to engage on the pressing issues facing society – and businesses that take up this mantle stand to gain trust across the stakeholder ecosystem.”

The data also shows there has been dramatic increases of trust in government officials (+14 points), journalists (+11 points) and NGO representatives (+1 point) despite most Australians (68%) still being concerned about the political and ideological agendas of most news organisations.

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Australia for the second year running has the largest trust inequality gap on record globally, with a 22 point difference between the informed public (77 points) and the mass population (55 points).

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Personal concerns such as job security and health are prioritised over societal issues like the climate crisis and economic inequality.

Job loss is Australia’s number one worry, with more than four in five reporting concerns and more than half worried the pandemic will accelerate the rate at which companies replace humans with AI and robots.

Almost two-thirds reported the pandemic had reduced their hours or eliminated their job.

Two-thirds (66%) of Australians were also concerned about climate change and 36% are fearful, sitting ahead of concerns over contracting COVID-19 at 54%. Meaning Australians are more concerned about the environment compared to contracting COVID-19 themselves.

Edelman’s Trust Barometer showed that all institutions are now perceived as ethical, and are trending to "competent" territory, with business and NGOs the only institutions seen as both competent and ethical.

This is stark shift from last year’s results which found no institution to be ethical and competent.

Business has emerged as the institution regarded as the most competent, holding a 30 point lead over government and 12 points over NGOs. NGOs are seen as the most ethical institution leading by 7 points over business and government, and 13 points over media.

The national increase in trust has also been felt across all industry sectors, with the exception of technology. Healthcare (+9 points), energy (+8 points), telecommunications (+7 points) and financial services (+7 points) have recorded the highest growth of trust compared to the technology sector which fell by 5 points.

“After a year of disruption, fear and uncertainty the need for empathy and open communication is at an all-time high," says Hutton 

"With 2021 set for another year of change with the distribution of a vaccine, the return of business confidence, the relaxing of international travel bans, and a stronger economic recovery, Australians will be looking to societal institutions for guidance, stability, and trust.

"CEOs will be critical to Australia’s recovery as we look to them to step into unfamiliar areas to lead a coalition for change and progress, when the government fails to do what is right. While media and government will need to work on delivering promises and restore their position as competent and trust institutions." 

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