How do Canadians feel about trust?

Canadians have become more empowered with access to information and technology that enable them to interact with each other and institutions in new and profound ways. We have Open Government, Access to Information and Privacy online requests, and other tools that enable transparency. Services such as Uber and Airbnb allow strangers to interact to create new experiences. With this push towards transparency, I wanted to take a look at how Canadians feel about trust, are how this affects their relationship with institutions. The results surprised me: as we’ve lost trust in those in authority, we have gained trust in each other. This shift represents huge opportunities for those willing to work with – not just for – the public.

According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, trust among Canadians in institutions (NGOs, business, government and media) has slipped from ‘neutral’ to the ‘distruster’ category in 2017. Canadians also think that government and business are equal to blame for the country’s problems, as well as responsible for fixing the problems (see graph below). This presents opportunities for government and business to listen to Canadians, and work towards developing a set of solutions to foster more trust.

 

The survey data shows that the credibility of Canadian leadership is slipping. There has been a shift into who the public is now viewing as a credible source of information. In 2017, employees are now seen as the most credible source to communicate several topics, including the treatment of employees/customers, financial earnings and operational performance, business practices/crisis handling, innovation efforts. Employees are ranked second best for communicating views on industry issues and partnerships/programs to address societal issues.

 

The shift in employees as the most credible source has impacted how the public views influence and authority. In 2016, influence and authority was at the top of the pyramid; those who had power, made the rules and everyone else followed these rules (generally). In 2017, the pyramid flipped to influence having power over authority. The mass population understands they may not have authority, but they have the power to influence decisions that those in power are making. One factor influencing this change can be attributed to the amount of information that is available online. The general population is now more aware of what institutions are doing, and if it goes against their values, they can share this information and gather others to influence change.

A more recent shift is occurring: influence and authority are evenly distributed between institutions and the public. This means that business (economic benefit), media (information flow), government (public policy) and NGOs (societal benefits) will be shared with the people to operate towards an integrated model. If the population and institutions work together, barriers of who has influence and authority will be collapsed. This increased transparency and collaborative ideation can lead to better products and services. So, is this the model that can allow Canadians to gain more trust, and in turn, receive better services from institutions?


Lisa is a consultant with three years of experience focused on lean process management, user experience and business strategy development. She has completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Marketing from the John Molson School of Business in Montreal, finishing her studies at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark.


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