News Details

The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer presented at the SA-German Chamber

23.08.17 AHK Süd-Afrika - News-Hauptkategorie

Johannesburg – On Tuesday 22 August 2017, the Southern African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted the presentation of the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer by Jordan Rittenberry, Managing Director of Edelman South Africa. The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer is the 17th edition of the organisation’s annual trust and credibility survey. This survey sampled more than 33,000 respondents across 28 countries and asked respondents how much they trust the four institutions of government, business, non-governmental organisations and media to do what is right. SA-German Chamber Members from a range of businesses, NGOs and business associations were in attendance and had many questions concerning the Trust Barometer’s findings.

The 2017 Barometer revealed a disturbing “trust gap” between elite and mass populations, a clear indication being the rise in populism in many countries around the world today. Globalisation and technological change have been factors in the people’s growing distrust of global institutions. The result is a sharp rise in populism and nationalism, made most glaringly evident by the outcome of the last US presidential election and the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU (Brexit). This rise in populism, Rittenberry stated, has implications for government, business, media and even non-governmental organisations in South Africa.

In all the 28 countries that were surveyed, an overall decrease in trust was observed in all four categories. Rittenberry stated that South Africa, in particular, has the lowest trust in its government out of all countries participating in the survey. Both South Africa and Germany seem to share a strong distrust for their respective governments. There has been a noticeable shift in influence from authorities to the mass population. This finding implies that it is the people, not government, who in many cases direct policy decisions.

The growing distrust in the media as an institution has led much of the public to seek information from search engines, where they are presented with multiple sources of information. Rittenberry determined that a person must be exposed to a truth claim five to six times before they are convinced of its credibility. Due to the part that Wikileaks had to play in the US elections, many of the survey participants said they put more faith in “leaked” information, than formal media institutions. Growing in tandem with a distrust of media, is the prevalence of echo chambers, where people either only listen to what they agree with, ignore what they don’t like or refuse to change their perspective in spite of verifiable information to the contrary. In this way, an individual’s peers may hold more credibility to them than an official source. As a result, the credibility of CEOs has dropped to an all-time low in both Germany and South Africa.

In the business category, the Trust Barometer found that South Africans still have a fair level of trust for business in the country. The most trusted industry sector in SA is the technology sector, which has led many consulting firms to encourage companies to “think like a tech company – nimble, agile, think differently.”

However, Edelman also found that the most trusted companies are those that “take actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the community where [the company] operates.” This implies more than corporate social responsibility alone. Companies, who want to win and keep the trust of their consumers, are expected, not only to offer high quality products and services, but should also be treating employees well, governed by ethical business practices, listen to customer needs and feedback, and take responsible actions to address and issue or crisis.

The Chamber members, who were part of this information session, offered a number of questions and comments in the Q & A session, mainly around the distrust in government and media and what steps could be taken to remedy those. Most troubling to the audience was the finding that many of the survey participants were comfortable ignoring facts (the survey showed that 2 out of 5 agreed with the statement, “I would support politicians I trust to make things better for me and my family even if they exaggerated the truth.”). A surprising finding for some in attendance was that employees of a company are regarded as a more credible information source than the CEO.

Southern African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The Southern African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been operating in Southern Africa for over 65 years. Bringing together potential business partners is one of our key service offerings. We foster business links between Germany and Southern African companies through comprehensive and target group oriented researches, workshops, seminars and business delegations that bring you in contact with competent business partners in your industry. Contact the Chamber to get connected with German and southern African businesses at info(at); or call +27 11 486 2775.

Press Notice - Print version 
The presentation by Jordan Rittenberry (Edelman South Africa) Managing Director.