The High Cost of Low Trust

Edelman’s highly anticipated Trust Barometer (in its 23rd year) has been released and business is being put in the hot seat by a demanding consumer set, who are amid a full-blown trust crisis. Add to that the overall vibe at the recently attended annual Advertising Law conference, it is very clear that with public outcries for tougher privacy legislation, ethical concerns in regulated marketplaces (such as iGaming and Marketing to Kids) and an abundance of corporate greenwashing, that industry has a lot on its plate coming into an already unsettled 2023. 

While the trust gap between business and government is at a staggering high –with business being the sole institution viewed as competent and ethical – it is still not enough for them to sit back and enjoy the victory. Taking the lack of consumer trust in our political system leaders and adding to it the fact that only 34% of respondents trust media we could see a move from a “crisis of institutional trust to a crisis of interpersonal trust” if nothing is done. Businesses are encouraged to continue to lead on some complex issues all while finding a way to work with government not against it.  

According to Richard Edelman, CEO, Edelman, “Less than the majority in over half of the countries surveyed say that business can avoid being politicized when it addresses contentious societal issues. Business is on safe ground when it stays in areas of comparative advantage where it can make a tangible difference, including sustainability, DE&I (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion), wages/reskilling, and geopolitics”. 

Here are some of the key notes coming out of this year’s report: 

  • Focus On and Measure Sustainability Efforts: On the topic of Climate change: 53% say business is not doing enough compared to 8% who say it’s overstepping the issue.  Identify metrics that can be used to show progress in this area and demonstrate societal impact. 
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is an Everyone Issue: DEI strategies need to be on the agenda for all companies – not just the big ones. And the Supply chain needs to demand diversity from all partners from on the ground employees to the Board of Directors. 
  • Invest in Trusted Media Partners and Hold them Accountable: Trust in news sources has gone down year over year since 2019 (traditional media from 66 percent to 58 percent, social media down from 44 percent to 39 percent). It’s time to pull budgets from properties who spread untruths and stand behind the decision to do so. 
  • Work with – Not Against – Government: Especially in areas of economic inequality, public safety and workforce reskilling – all areas with at least 45% of respondents saying business is not doing enough. 

You can find can download the full report here and to find out how to get involved in the IAB Canada community reach out to