Business in Malaysia is expected to see a significant jump in trust with a nine-point rise to 72 per cent this year, according to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer Annual Global Study. It said this is mainly due to strong trust in big businesses and publicly-traded companies, highlighting that a commitment to shareholder value and high standards of governance, are much valued by Malaysians.
A large majority (80 per cent) of respondents in Malaysia said they trusted big business, up by three percentage points from the previous year, while 77 per cent said publicly-traded companies were trustworthy. Edelman Malaysia managing director Raymond Siva said the result of the study comes on the back of Malaysia moving up six notches to sixth place in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2013 report.
“The implementation of strict reporting standards, integrity pacts, open tenders and independent oversight is seen to have contributed significantly to business earning a higher trust from the Malaysian public,” he told reporters at the launch of the Malaysian Edition of the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer. The result was further strengthened by the World Bank’s vote of confidence for the country’s banking sector, reporting that it is poised for further growth in 2014 with strong prospects and profitability.
According to the study, 78 per cent of Malaysians held a high level of trust in banks in the country. Technology companies also continued to enjoy the same high level of trust with an increase of five percentage points to 90 per cent, while consumer health and pharmaceutical companies saw trust gains of four and three percentage points to 79 per cent and 77 per cent respectively, possibly due to stringent regulation and consumer protection policies.
However, while trust in business saw a marked increase, trust in its leaders was lacklustre. Respondents gave a clear indication of the attributes they expected from chief executive officers to earn trust, namely, communicating clearly and transparently, engaging with employees regularly to discuss the state of the business and finally, telling the truth regardless of how complex or unpopular it is.
“These attributes were only separated by one per cent each, indicating that transparency and honesty in top executives are paramount trust building factors. “Trust in the Malaysian government still remains in positive territory with over half of the respondents saying they trusted the institution in question, making Malaysia one of only 10 countries to do so,” Siva said.
The percentage of respondents saying they trusted the government “a great deal” also saw a slight increase from 21 per cent to 23 per cent this year. For three consecutive years, trust in non-governmental organisations remained strong and leads against businesses, media and government, albeit with a one percentage point drop from a year earlier to 75 per cent.
This data reinforces the view that championing a purpose remains a top priority for the majority of Malaysians. The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer is the firm’s annual credibility survey which consists of 20-minute online interviews conducted between October to November last year. The survey sampled 27,000 general population respondents with an oversample of 6,000 informed publics in the ages of between 25 to 64 across 27 countries.