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CEOs should take lead in change - survey

Mar 07 2018 07:12

Cape Town - Only 14% of the general South African population trusts the government, according to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer released on Tuesday.

The barometer indicates that the general SA population's trust in the mainstream institutions of government, media, non-governmental organisations and business is in steady decline.

At the same time 77% of the general population believes that chief executive officers should take the lead on change rather than wait for government to impose it.

When asked which of the four institutions is the most likely to lead to a better future, 45% of respondents chose business, while only 11% chose government.

According to the barometer report, this lack of faith in government is the reason why former president Jacob Zuma was forced to resign a year ahead of schedule. The corruption allegations against him are said to have contributed to the increasingly negative public opinion of the ANC and the government.

From 2017 to 2018 trust in government among the general population in SA dropped from 15% to 14%. Trust in the media dropped from 39% to 35% and trust in business dropped from 56% to 53%. Trust in NGOs dropped from 58% to 50%.

Edelman has been measuring trust in the four main institutions since 2001 and SA has been included in the survey every year since 2014.

Businesses and CEOs must lead

As voices of authority regained credibility with 11 and 12-point increases in the credibility of CEOs and boards of directors respectively, it’s clear, according to the barometer report, that people are looking to business to lead.

The Edelman Trust Barometer found that the most important expectations South Africans have of CEOs are that their company is trusted; that their business decisions reflect company values; that their products and services are of a high quality; and that they set high ethical standards.

Globally, the Trust Barometer found that trust in business increased in 14 of the 28 markets surveyed, meaning there are opportunities for business to affect change and gain even higher levels of trust among the general population, states the report.

Global trust

This year, the Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that 20 of the 28 countries surveyed now fall into the category of "distrusters", with SA’s Trust Index decreasing by four points as the country became the third least trusting market.

While six global markets recorded extreme increases in trust, an equal number, including SA, experienced extreme losses in trust in the four main institutions. Locally, there was an overall drop of 17 points while in the US, there was a decline of 37 points.

Fake news

The Trust Barometer found that 69% of South Africans are worried about fake news being used as a weapon. Compounding this result is the discovery that people now define media as both content and platforms.

Trust in journalism and platforms declined by two and eight points respectively, and nearly half the population in the country consumes news less than once a week. People remain sceptical of news organisations with 61% believing news companies are more concerned with attracting a big audience as opposed to reporting, 59% believes news publications sacrifice accuracy to be the first to break a story.

The barometer report says it is worrying that 62% of the general population believes that the average person does not know how to tell good journalism from rumour and 54% believes that it’s becoming harder to tell if news was produced by a respected media organisation or not.

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confidence  |  sa economy  |  trust
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