Tech sector is most trusted by public, but only one in four trust social media

24 Jan 2013

People don't trust the suits - bankers and politicians are the least trusted elements of fraud-weary Irish society

The technology sector continues to be the most trusted sector of Irish society while Government, banking and financial services remain the least trusted sectors, according to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, less than one in 10 of the general public in Ireland believes a business or Government leader will actually tell the truth when confronted by a difficult issue.

The overall system of Government in Ireland remains severely distrusted, with only one-third of people prepared to say they trust business and less than a quarter say they trust Government.

Trust in Government remained largely stable over the year after rising (15 percentage points) the previous year;

Banking (15pc) and financial services (18pc) remain the least trusted industry sectors in Ireland while the technology sector (64pc) continues to be the most trusted.

The primary reasons for the general population’s lack of trust in business were found to be a combination of perceptions of corruption or fraud and the wrong incentives driving business decisions.

The primary reasons for people’s lack of trust in Government were found to be poor performance and incompetence.

Levels of trust in media (45pc) and NGOs (63pc) both rose by 10 percentage points in 2012, with media benefiting from a diversification of options and strong coverage of scandals.

Traditional media (newspapers and broadcast), at 51pc, is the most trusted source of information in Ireland among the general public, followed by online search engines at 47pc. Only one in four claim to trust social media.

Levels of trust in ethics and morality in Ireland are very low – people do not trust Government or business leaders to tell the truth, make ethical decisions, solve social issues or regulate problem sectors.

More Irish people (59pc) trust the European Union than their own national Government (18pc) to manage the Eurozone debt crisis. This contrasts with UK and Germany, where more people (almost half) trust their national government.

A society of distrusters

“Ireland in 2012 remained a society of distrusters,” Edelman Ireland’s managing director Mark Cahalane surmised.

“Clearly past events and the continued difficult economic climate make conditions in Ireland more challenging than elsewhere. Despite this, low levels of trust in both business and government are particularly concerning at a time when trust levels in neighbouring and peer countries have been recovering.

“This has now become a crisis for the leadership of Ireland’s business and Government organisations who simply cannot function effectively where such a deficit of trust exists. Leaders in business and Government must embrace the public’s desire for transparency as well as listening to and acting on the concerns of their stakeholders.”

The survey found that the majority of Irish people are dissatisfied with the performance of banks in areas such as lending, pricing and the safeguarding of customers’ personal information.

It also found that 66pc of people believed the banks themselves were entirely to blame for a number of high-profile banking scandals during the year instead of external factors, like regulation and the economy.

Businessman handshake image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years