• Transform magazine
  • April 16, 2024


Public lacks trust in business innovation


Building trust is essential for bringing new products and services to market. In a world where the public’s trust for institutions is low, it is important that businesses practice and demonstrate a real responsibility towards society and the international community.

The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that half of respondents think business is moving too fast, and that technology companies are believed to be the main purveyors of that change. However, despite this, technology remains the most trusted of all industry sectors.

In terms of the public’s attitude towards innovation, the survey shows that 69% of people trust electronic payments while 47% distrust hydraulic fracturing and 32% distrust genetically modified food. The majority of people believe that greed and money are the real drivers behind business innovation, rather than a desire to build a better world.

When a business seeks to innovate, 81% of people believe that personal and societal benefits should be of utmost importance. Popular suggested solutions to the current lack of trust include: ‘make testing available for review’ and ‘partner with academic institutions’. Respondents also expressed a wish for greater governmental regulation of new developments, although many don’t trust government to carry this out effectively.

The Barometer suggests that companies build trust through the development of integrity and engagement. An ethical business model and transparent communication with stakeholders are vital in the pursuit of this.

In the Barometer’s Executive Summary Richard Edelman, CEO and president at Edelman, says, “In a world of dispersed authority, a new compact of trust must be forged between the individual and the corporation. The individual must feel empowered to speak out, to be the other half of the innovation engine along with the genius programmer or scientist, to be a key part of the process of accepting of the new.”

Innovation should drive trust, not obstruct it, companies must demonstrate the personal and societal benefits that their innovation will bring.

“There must be a new relationship of equality between the company and the individual, who agrees to surrender elements of privacy in order to achieve better service while maintaining the right to opt out. The broader objective should be a better world, as seen in the 81% of respondents who believe that business can both make a profit and improve society. The smart company will cultivate the new power of interested individuals who seek to collaborate toward a common purpose, so that marketing becomes a movement.” Adds Edelman.