There’s lots to be learned from each edition of Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer report. The 2013 Canadian edition was released today. I could carry on for quite some time about the various findings of the report. However, I think one slide in their summary deck speaks volumes. So, I’ll direct my focus to that one analysis.

The slide in question goes by the title Trusted sources are experts and peers. The top three most trust sources are

  1. Academic or expert
  2. Technical expert in the company
  3. A person like yourself

These are the same top three as last year which means, in my view, Canadian trust in these sources remains firm. That is, these trusted sources have done a respectable-enough job to maintain their status. In fact, academics and experts occupying the top spot earned a 12% increase and technical experts in the company gained 4%. A person like yourself, while holding on to the number three spot, actually dropped 3%. Still, ‘you’ remain more trusted than representatives of NGOs. That’s important.

NGO representatives still hold a significant amount of trust (55%, down 5% from 2012) and have a commanding lead over government officials or regulators (45%, up 13%!) and CEOs (35%, up 3%).

What does all this mean?

My take is trust comes through perceived expertise and/or human-relatable qualities.

The report identifies corruption and fraud as the most significant reason government officials and regulators struggle to gain trust. While the top reason CEOs sit in the basement of the standing is identified as ‘wrong incentives driving business decisions,’ I believe their inability to speak in a human-relatable way is equally as damaging. Corporate speak and legal-counsel-approved messaging only serves to remind the public of the divide between themselves and the executive class.


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