What does it take us to trust people? Is it reliability, support on tap or simply showing you care?
Trust means you place your faith, confidence and expectations into someone or something without a second thought. It’s a confidence that strengthens with every interaction you have with a person, organisation or business. Lose it and you may never recover that trust.
And haven’t there been some shocking displays of untrustworthiness in public life recently? We’ve lost count of the scandals, bad behaviour – sometimes criminal – and displays of ostentatious greed coming from all sections of society. Riding alongside this has been the discovery that, thanks to modern communication, angry protestors can quickly gather and shout about their distrust, transparency calls are escalating and consumers are quick to publicly review and feedback their experiences.
It’s an interesting time to explore the issue of trust and it’s why the Social Enterprise Mark CIC, a certification body that sets out to prove good companies are doing genuine good, and to which Community Campus (please see our directory profile www.socialenterprisemark.org.uk/directory-certified-social-enterprises/?coid=35461498 ) belongs, wanted to explore the issue more closely. How do we trust and who do we trust in our own daily lives? Do we have issues of trust not just with the outside world but in our own social circles?
We surveyed 2,000 UK adults from all walks of life last month and the results provide a useful snapshot of the state of trust in the UK.
Of the adults polled the average person only trusts four people, despite an average of 15 close friends. This circle of trust usually comprises just two immediate family members, as well as their partner and one best friend.
But perhaps most surprising was that 54 per cent of adults admitted to having issues with trusting people. Are you one of them?
The most common reason a person has felt betrayed was by having their secrets blabbed – as almost four in ten said they’d had this done by someone they considered a friend.
Outside the social circle, perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s looking bad. Two in three adults stated they have no faith in the government – not good news as we go into an election year.
Over half of the respondents said they find banks to be dishonest, whilst people and brands linked to tax avoidance were also deemed to be undeserving of trust. For this reason we support the Fair Tax Mark.
The results show a deep distrust between what a company might say and what a consumer might believe. Nearly two thirds of people agree with the statement that a lot of companies pretend to be ethical just to sell more products.
Are our findings a true picture of what’s really being felt in the homes of the UK and if so, what can companies do about it?
US PR firm Edelman, has been measuring trust in its annual Trust Barometer around the world since 2001. This research has captured people’s response to all sorts of impacts to our global lives such as the financial crisis of 2007-08, the explosion of digital communications and its ensuing issues of privacy and security.
This year’s results revealed the trust gap between business and government is widening. In general we’re trusting business more but government less. But with trust being so hard to earn, we need to find ways to make it easy for people to trust businesses especially at the point when they are looking to buy goods or services.
This is why the Social Enterprise Mark was set up – never has the time been more ripe. It’s the only independent proof that a business like Community Campus is not only good for your customers but good for society too. This business not only gives you the services or goods you want but it is also set up in such a way – called a social enterprise – that a majority of its profits are ploughed back to fulfil its environmental or social purpose.
And since our survey indicated that nearly half of respondents have little or no trust in businesses that pay their bosses inflated salaries, you can understand why businesses need to be clearer about what they are doing with their money and how its benefiting the majority rather than the chosen few.
Written by Lucy Findlay, Managing Director, Social Enterprise Mark