Our latest Workspace Business Insight Dinner discussed the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer findings, and what they mean for businesses in the future.

From the Facebook data scandal to the seemingly constant battle to work out which news stories are based in fact and which are far more rumour, truth and transparency are words that have taken on a whole new meaning in recent years.

At his latest International Advertising Bureau (IAB) address, Keith Weed CMCO of Unilever said: “Once trust starts getting eroded you’ve got all sorts of problems. Without trust, you don’t get brands,” and this is a theme that was discussed in detail at Kennington Park’s WBI Dinner this month.

Edelman is a global communications marketing firm that partners with the world's leading businesses and organisations to evolve, promote and protect their brands and reputations. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer (conducted by Edelman Intelligence, a global insight and analytics consultancy) measured trust across numerous institutions, sectors and geographies and surveyed more than 33,000 respondents across 28 countries.

The barometer found that “business is now expected to be an agent of change, the employer is the new safe house in global governance, with 72% of respondents saying that they trust their own company, and 64% believing a company can take actions that both increase profits and improve economic and social conditions in the community where it operates.”

Making use of the facts

But what do these findings really mean for businesses, practically? How can companies build, improve and maintain trust to form stronger client relationships, be ethically sound and still meet financial goals and turn a profit? If it sounds like a lot to undertake, perhaps Satyen Dayal will put your mind at rest.

Sat is Senior Director of Technology at Edelman. During his insightful presentation he provided answers to these questions, as well as discussing the topic of trust and truthfulness in business with Anant Joshi, Chief Revenue Officer at Factmata and Graham Forsyth, Director of Marketing, Europe at Spredfast. You can watch their panel discussion here:

How can businesses be (more of) a force for good?

The Trust Barometer highlighted that over a third of people no longer see social media as a force for good and that businesses must show commitment beyond the business in order to succeed. Indeed, 56% of people think that “companies that only think about themselves and their profits are bound to fail,” and 60% that “CEOs are driven more by greed than a desire to make a positive difference in the world.”

As a senior director in Edelman London, Sat’s work also covers leadership of the Citizenship agenda and Diversity & Inclusion strategy. He believes this is a key factor in helping companies to be ethical and make positive changes in the world.

“There’s multiple sources of evidence that show how diverse companies are more successful than those that aren’t,” he explained. “In general, this comes down to diverse teams making more effective decisions. We can take this to mean many things, but, at the core, it’s about having a more rounded perspective i.e. the ability to bring together multiple perspectives before taking action.  

“So, it stands to reason then that diverse and inclusive brands are more likely to engender trust with their customers. And even for those that are approaching highly targeted campaigns that may for example only be intended for white, male 35–50-year olds. Within this group there are depth and breadth of attitudes and behaviours that may well be missed. Having a broad perspective can help overcome this challenge.”

As well as improving diversity and inclusivity, The Edelman Barometer concluded that in order to be a force for good a business must:

  • Go beyond the business
  • Speak up on key issues
  • Communicate through trusted voices
  • Activate the entire organisation

How can businesses lead and build trust?

Within the key findings for the UK, the Trust Barometer states “When looking at the bigger picture, Britain remains subdued with distrust continuing across the board and Britons are becoming more pessimistic about their economic outlook.” And when looking at the findings for The State of Trust in Business specifically, 63% of people agree that without trust, they will stop buying from brands.

Satyen explained: “In our Trust Barometer, the question we ask is “how much trust do you have in the institution, organisation or industry to do the right thing?” Crucially, we have found that trusted companies are more likely to see people buy their products or shares. They are also more likely to be recommended to friends and see people defend the company.

“And when you look at the major attributes that build trust, you start to see specific behaviours that people value. From ethical business practices to treating employees well, protecting the environment and having widely admired leadership.

“For me an important insight lies in one question we ask people about whether businesses (or any organisation for that matter) can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the communities in which they operate. The Trust Barometer overwhelmingly confirms that people believe this is possible.

“This comes back to the diversity and inclusion point I made earlier, particularly the inclusivity side. Ideally, people should be able to work from anywhere and anytime and feel included. But, coming back to inclusivity, there are certain tasks where specific people need to work more closely together. The goal is to create an environment where all these needs and tasks can be met. The starting point from Edelman’s perspective has to be trust. With so many tasks and so many needs we must start with the position that our colleagues can perform these and then build on this trust. And that’s what we do.”

The recommended trust-building mandates for business drawn from Edelman’s findings are:

  • Safeguard privacy
  • Invest in jobs
  • Ensure a competitive workforce
  • Consumer safety

Recovering trust

The Barometer looked at where distrust might be coming from. Inaction on key issues and a lack of confidence in media were two of the areas of particular interest. Satyen discussed that many people are finding it more difficult to know which businesses to trust “more commonly we hear ‘I’m not sure what to believe’ and this is concerning. Although I think it’s good to have a healthy amount of scepticism when approaching news sources and business information, as businesses and brands we should be looking to build trust.”

Not every brand has experienced the smoothest journey around building trust. When asked what advice Sat would give to brands that have perhaps not fared so well in the trust area, and how they might recover from that, Sat had this to say: “One word: Resilience. The Trust Barometer has shown that organisations and industries with high-levels of trust have been able to overcome such breaches.

“So, the starting point after such an issue must be how any response taken today will be sustained over the long-term. Implementing practices and policies that may appear to address the problem but are then not sustainable will fail to build resilience and risk creating a cycle of distrust.”

Agents of change

64% of participants in the Edelman research believe that CEOs should take the lead on change rather than waiting for government to impose it. But no matter your position within a business or company, we all need to be more engaged in pushing for positive change.

All our panellists represent the kind of innovation required to start building trust between business and consumers; they are agents of change. As companies are switching on to making positive moves in the world, they are leading the way.

Left to right: Graham Forsyth, Anant Joshi and Satyen Dayal

Anant is committed to positive, practical change and enjoys motivating people by making hard work fun. As an ad tech leader, an advisor and a company growth specialist, he is responsible for Global sales at Factmata, but formally led Meetrics from start up to leading player across Europe on the subjects of ad viewability, brand safety and fraud detection.

Factmata’s mission is to protect people, advertisers, publishers and other businesses from deceptive or misleading content online. They believe in the importance of objectivity, quality and facts. They think the Internet can be better. They want to give businesses the tools to beat online misinformation. To do this, they’re combining cutting edge AI with human community and ingenuity to build a better media ecosystem.

Dhruv Ghulati, Factmata’s founder said it would use machine intelligence “to empower people to question the digital content they read on a daily basis, and not take anything for granted. By putting advanced fact-checking tools in the hands of the people, we want to make fact checking fun, engaging, and empowering.”

Spredfast is a global social media marketing software company that provides community management, social media marketing, content management, social care, and social media analytics tools to brands and agencies. It works with some of the world’s leading brands including, Bank of America, ESPN, The Discovery Channel, General Motors and Live Nation.

Graham supports organisations by helping brands to connect with the people they care about most through incredible social experiences. Prior to Spredfast, Graham developed and led global campaigns at SAP and has, for nearly 20 years, been developing campaigns at some of the world's largest brands. An avid social media user himself—you can find Graham on Twitter.

Sprefast looks to tackle driving customer loyalty and frequently discusses how brands approach the issue of trust. Spredfast analysed Edelman’s Trust Barometer findings on its blog saying: “The world is experiencing a crisis of doubt and there is no clear sign of a recovery anytime soon. But as with all challenges, there is opportunity hidden within. Despite decades of silence, today’s politically charged climate is forcing brands to engage with issues and take a stand—or risk having their politics defined for them. There is a right way, and a wrong way.”

Spredfast highly value trust and work hard to build more meaningful connections between brands and consumers through social media. “Building trust is a guiding principle we follow at Spredfast and it’s something we encourage, and enable, our customers to do.”

Watch Satyen’s presentation of the Edelman Trust Barometer findings here.

Trust is intrinsically linked to brand purpose – which is exactly what we’ll be exploring at our next WBI event at Fleet Street in Blackfriars, London on Thursday 28th June. What is your brand’s purpose? This is probably the single most important question that will shape your company’s future success. However, it’s not always straight-forward. Come and hear experts discuss and debate the topic and learn how you can develop your own brand’s purpose.

If you want to come along to one of our WBI dinners and breakfasts, or any of the thought provoking events we have, visit our events page.

And if your business is looking for a new place to push boundaries, develop ideas and work in new ways, you’ll love what we have on offer from our portfolio of 70 London locations. Find your Workspace today.

Suggested reading

If you want to learn more about companies tackling trust, protecting your business from a social media crisis and what the Edelman Barometer discovered in depth, we have put together some articles and further reading you might enjoy: