January 25th, 2022

Commentary From Crisis Management Expert Edward Segal, Author of the Award- Winning book Crisis Ahead: 101 Ways to Prepare for and Bounce Back from Disasters, Scandals, and Other Emergencies (Nicholas Brealey)

Here’s some good and encouraging news for corporate leaders: More people appear to trust businesses and industries than they do the government and news organizations, while trust in most industries and businesses has increased. That’s according to the Edelman 2022 Trust Barometer that was released this month.

Other business-related findings of the Edelman Trust Barometer include:

  • Trust in almost all industries rose slightly over 2021, led by technology, automotive, education, transportation, financial services, professional services, and healthcare sectors.
  • Trust in social media companies declined.
  • Trust in companies that are headquartered in the U.S. and France rose.
  • Trust in companies headquartered in Canada, China, German, India, Japan, South Korea and UK decreased.
  • Family-owned businesses are trusted more by the public than privately held, publicly traded or state-owned ones.

The New York Times noted that, “One curiosity is that while about half of people [surveyed] purport to trust C.E.O.s in general, two-thirds of people said they trusted the C.E.O. of their employer. That suggests that people are unfairly impugning the reputations of many executives, or that they have a bias toward the person who signs their paycheck.”

Trust Is The Ultimate Currency

Edelman said that, “We have studied trust for more than 20 years and believe that it is the ultimate currency in the relationship that all institutions—companies and brands, governments, NGOs and media—build with their stakeholders. Trust defines an organization’s license to operate, lead and succeed. Trust is the foundation that allows an organization to take responsible risk, and, if it makes mistakes, to rebound from them.

“For a business, especially, lasting trust is the strongest insurance against competitive disruption, the antidote to consumer indifference, and the best path to continued growth. Without trust, credibility is lost and reputation can be threatened.”

The Importance Of Trust In A Crisis

Trust is important, of course, in the day-to-day operations and activities of companies and organizations. In times of crisis, the public’s trust in how a business in dealing with the situation and what they are saying and doing about it can directly impact the company’s image, reputation and credibility.

Take Johnson & Johnson, for example.

In 2018, there was a report by Reuters that the company had known for decades that the raw material in talcum powder could be contaminated with asbestos but tried to cover it up.

“The report triggered a 10% drop in the company’s stock price. J&J called that report “false and inflammatory,” according to NPR.”

A Global Perspective

Kirsty Graham is Edelman’s global leader of sectors and global chair of health. She observed that, “We enter the new year in the long shadow of an enduring pandemic, with Omicron yet another gut check to a world still holding its breath. This enduring uncertainty is clear in the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, which finds we are caught in a vicious cycle of distrust.

“Many are in self-protection mode. No doubt this is sparked by the pandemic for some. For others, perhaps it is reaching the boiling point of long-held feelings of being unheard and unrepresented by societal decision makers. Edelman’s data found only one-third of the world believes most people can be trusted, fear of fake news is at an all-time high (76%), and globally more than half (51%) of respondents in the countries studied do not believe their families will be better off five years from now.

“Rebuilding trust is essential to move beyond short-term survival mode to a healthy, functioning and stable society. To do this, we must focus on meeting core needs: we are experiencing a time when many are questioning if the roof over their head will withstand fires and floods, if their loved ones will be able to join their next celebration, if they know who they can rely on for trustworthy information.”

About The Trust Barometer

The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer is the company’s 22nd annual trust and credibility survey. The survey consisted of 30-minute online interviews conducted between November 1 and November 24, 2021 and included responses from more than 36,000 respondents in 28 countries.


Edward Segal is a crisis management expert, consultant and author of the award-winning Crisis Ahead: 101 Ways to Prepare for and Bounce Back from Disasters, Scandals, and Other Emergencies (Nicholas Brealey). Order the book at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0827JK83Q/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

Segal is a Leadership Strategy Senior Contributor for Forbes.com where he covers crisis-related news, topics and issues. Read his recent articles at https://www.forbes.com/sites/edwardsegal/?sh=3c1da3e568c5.