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The 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer: Innovation and Trust

What Do Respondents Say?

The 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer is a score that measures the average percentage of trust in institutions like NGOs, business, government, and media. It is essentially a global measurement of trust around the world. Trust is indicated by positive sentiment expressed over time regarding a brand's ability, dependability, integrity, purpose and personal relevance, which is based on personal experience with that brand.

The Edelman Trust Barometer identifies rapid innovation as a trend in society that has many implications for the welfare of citizens in many societies around the globe. Respondents to the survey indicate they are nearly twice as likely to say that innovation is poorly vs well managed. However, when they do believe that institutions are managing innovation well, they are 27 points less likely to feel that society is leaving them behind.

Edelman publishes data-driven insights that inform leadership, strategy, policy and sustained action across institutions. The 2024 survey included 32,000 respondents from 28 countries, so it is representative of global beliefs.

I have previously blogged about the Edelman Trust Barometer and what it means as a measure of trust in all institutions. Edelman believes that trust is the basis for productive relationships. According to the report, “it is the ultimate currency in the relationship that all institutions have with each other and society, including — business, governments, NGOs and media —.” Organizations should build trust in these relationships for society to believe what they say and say what they do.

Trust is the basis for stakeholder relationships whether in one’s personal life or in the workplace. Without trust, credibility is lost and one’s reputation can be threatened. As the saying goes, it takes a long time to build a reputation of trust but not very long to tear it down.

Trust is indicated by positive sentiment expressed over time regarding a brand's ability, dependability, integrity, purpose and personal relevance, which is based on personal experience with that brand.

A clear majority of those surveyed say that institutions “are purposefully trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.” The results break down as follows: journalists (64%); government leaders (63%); and business leaders (61%). In other words, these establishment leaders are not trusted to tell the truth. I wonder whether the lack of trust could lead to divisiveness and, ultimately, a breakdown of societies’ institutions that threatens governance.

What are the 3 levels of trust? Edelman

Levels of trust in the workplace are indicated by three levels that define a specific relationship with a person in the workplace.

  • Level 1: Governance and Rules-Based Trust. 
  • Level 2: Experience and Confidence-Based Trust. 
  • Level 3: Established vulnerability-based trust.

The involvement of business in socially-desirable activities has garnered support among the public worldwide in part because of the recent emergence of specialized reporting— Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing. ESG refers to a set of standards for a company’s behavior used by socially conscious investors to screen potential investments.

Environmental criteria consider how a company safeguards the environment, including corporate policies addressing climate change, for example. Social criteria examine how it manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates. Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.

The 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals a new paradox at the heart of society. Rapid innovation offers the promise of a new era of prosperity, but instead risks exacerbating trust issues, leading to further societal instability and political polarization.

In a year where half the global population can vote for new leaders, the acceptance of innovation is essential to the success of our society. While people agree that scientists are essential to the acceptance of innovation, many are concerned that politics has too much influence on science. This perception is contributing to the decline of trust in the institutions responsible for steering us through change and towards a more prosperous future.

These results raise a red flag about the future of economic growth in the sense that people fear for their economic futures. Add to that the level of distrust of government, and we can see that there is a lack of confidence that governments can make things better economically, at least in the short run.

Is it possible to elevate the level of trust in governments? Probably not, in the short run. Nevertheless, government leaders need to pay attention to the results of the Edelman Trust Barometer to ensure that they are on the right track to overcome uncertainties and a lack of confidence in their actions and behaviors.

Posted by Steven Mintz, Ph.D., aka Ethics Sage, on March 5, 2024. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: