The 2019 findings of the Edelman Trust Barometer show that Irish people are looking to their employers for guidance and CEOs to provide leadership on change at an unprecedented level. 1,150 people in Ireland were surveyed for the 2019 study to gauge respondents’ trust levels in and attitudes towards business, NGOs, the media and the political system.
The Barometer’s Irish findings revealed that more than ever, the Irish general population now expects CEOs to take the lead on change rather than waiting for government to impose it. They also show that CEOs can create positive change on issues such as equal pay, the ending of discrimination, improving the environment and job training. The belief that companies should benefit society as well as being profitable is now ‘the new normal’ for businesses.
This year's 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed:
- Companies must deliver for society as well as shareholders
- Expectation that CEOs will create positive change on societal issues is ‘the new normal’, survey shows
- Employers more trusted than government, NGOs and media
- Employees will act as powerful advocates for trusted firms
The benefits for businesses that provide this leadership also come sharply into focus through the Barometer’s Irish findings. The pay-off for businesses that meet these expectations and achieve high levels of trust are employees who align their identity and thinking with their employer and who are far more likely to advocate on their behalf. This employee advocacy includes recommending a company’s products and services but also extends to championing their employer as a place to work.
There has been a massive shift in the past year among Irish people about the role of business, with the vast majority of the public now expecting companies to do good as well as being profitable. The findings clearly indicate that Irish people expect their CEOs to provide leadership and to affect positive change on a range of societal issues. The reward for employers and business leaders who are aligned with the public’s view is also considerable, with staff acting as powerful advocates for employers.
This year’s findings also show that trust levels in Ireland in traditional media remain high at 62%, while at the same time trust in social media remains low at 27%. Overall, the 2019 Trust Barometer shows far higher levels of news engagement than in 2018, as concerns over the use of fake news and disinformation remain prevalent.
Due to ongoing political uncertainty, the Barometer shows increased trust in the EU, but political uncertainty also fuels concerns about employment and job security, especially the impact that international conflicts may have on trade policies and tariffs.
The Irish findings show that the vast majority of respondents who are employed among the general population (69%) have trust in their employer – an increase of two points on the 2018 figure. Irish people are also overwhelmingly looking to businesses and business leaders for leadership: 70% of Irish respondents agreed with the statement: “‘A company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the communities where it operates”, an increase of nine points on the 2018 figure.
The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer also reveals that the vast majority of Irish people (75%) expect CEOs to take the lead on change rather than waiting for government to impose it – an increase of 12 points on the previous year. Respondents identified that CEOs can create positive change in all of these areas: equal pay (72%); training for the jobs of tomorrow (67%) and making positive changes to overcome challenges such as prejudice and discrimination (66%) and sexual harassment (62%).
Further underlining the importance that Irish employees attach to CEO leadership, 71% of respondents said that it was critically important for CEOs to respond to challenges – ranging from industry issues, political events, national crises and employee-driven issues. The Barometer also shows that trusted employers were rewarded by their staff with greater commitment (82%), advocacy (75%), engagement (64%) and loyalty (63%).
Despite the Irish public viewing their relationship with their employer as the most trusted one – 69% – the Barometer also shows that only 44% of respondents felt they trusted business in general compared to 50% who said they trusted NGOs. Meanwhile, just 38% said they trusted government and 35% of respondents said they trusted the media.
Against this backdrop, 69% of respondents said they worried about false information and fake news being weaponised, with just 27% trusting social media. The 2019 Trust Barometer also shows a massive increase of 17 points in news engagement on 2018 among the general population, with 65% of respondents engaged.
Amid ongoing political uncertainty, the Irish public has also placed increasing trust in the EU, which increased to 56%.
Although the Republic of Ireland is nearing full employment, the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer identified relatively high levels of concern about the future. Over half of Irish respondents – 53% – said they were concerned that they lacked the training and skills to get a well-paid job, while automation and international conflicts about trade tariffs and trade policies were matters of concern for 47% and 46% of respondents in relation to their employment.
The study also showed that trust is divided along gender lines with women more sceptical than men of institutions. Women report lower levels of trust in Business (-4 points), Government (-5 points) and the media (-4 points).
About the Edelman Trust Barometer
The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer is the firm’s 19th annual trust and credibility survey. The survey was powered by research firm Edelman Intelligence and consisted of 30-minute online interviews conducted between October 19 and November 16, 2018. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer online survey sampled more than 33,000 respondents, which includes 6,000 informed public respondents across 27 markets. All informed public respondents met the following criteria: aged 25-64, college-educated; household income in the top quartile for their age in their country; read or watch business/news media at least several times a week; follow public policy issues in the news at least several times a week. For more information, visit https://www.edelman.com/trust-barometer