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An annual survey that gauges people’s faith in their institutions finds they are more trustful of businesses, than their national government or the media. 

The annual 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, which surveyed 33,000 people in 28 countries, found that trust has dropped precipitously in the world’s two largest economies: the U.S. and China. In the U.S., 40% of respondents said they deeply distrusted their government and in China that number was 30%. 

Globally, business (61%) has emerged as the most trusted institution, replacing government (53%), which fell substantially since its 11-point surge in May 2020. Business is the only institution deemed ethical and competent; and business outscores government by 48 points on competency. 

Edelman said that over the last five months, business has seized the high ground by proactively developing vaccines in record time and adapting to new ways to work during the pandemic.  

Globally, respondents placed even higher trust in their own employers (76%) and CEOs (63%). In the U.S., 72% said they trusted their own employer. 

“The events of this past year reinforced business’ responsibility to lead on societal issues, such as upskilling workers and racial justice,” said Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman. “It has also led to new expectations of business expanding its remit into unfamiliar areas, such as providing and safeguarding information.” 

The “global infodemic,as Edelman calls it, has driven trust in all news sources to record lows with social media (35%) and owned media (41%) the least trusted. Traditional media (53%) saw the largest drop in trust at 8 points. 

The report reveals that the biggest opportunity to earn business trust is guarding information quality. Fifty-three percent of respondents believe corporations need to fill the information void when the news media is absent. 

Communications from my employer is the most trusted source of information (61%), compared to national government (58%), traditional media (57%), and social media (39%).