A major global survey - the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer - has been launched at RMIT University.
Bronwyn Dilley (Managing Director, Intelligentsia Ltd), Nathan Taylor (Chief Economist, CEDA), Professor John Toohey (RMIT), Katy Haire (Board Member, IPAA Victoria) and Eugene Arocca (CEO, North Melbourne Football Club).
The Melbourne launch of the annual study conducted by Edelman, the world's largest independent public relations firm, was held recently at the Emily McPherson building, home of RMIT's Graduate School of Business and Law.
The School's Professor John Toohey joined a panel of industry leaders including Eugene Arocca, CEO, North Melbourne Football Club, and Bronwyn Dilley, Managing Director, Intelligentsia Ltd, at the launch.
Professor Toohey spoke of the role of trust in leadership and organisational behaviour.
"People often confuse leadership with an organisational chart," he said.
"The organisational chart spells out roles - and sometimes people in senior roles lack leadership skills. Leaders can exist in all parts of an organisation.
"But workplace culture is just as important as leadership for business, particularly when it comes to rebuilding trust after a crisis.
"Turning a company around after a crisis requires a culture of trust and the commitment of the whole organisation, not just the star power of a celebrity CEO."
Mr Arocca spoke of the successful efforts made by the North Melbourne Football Club to rebuild trust among members and the community after a series of crises, while Ms Dilley shared insights on the critical importance of trust for business.
Other speakers included Katy Haire, Board Member, Institute of Public Administration Australia Victoria, and Nathan Taylor, Chief Economist, Committee for Economic Development Australia.
Key findings in the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer include a dramatic drop of trust in government across the globe, with business leaders more trusted than government leaders to tell the truth in 24 of the 25 countries surveyed.
In Australia, only 33 per cent of those surveyed trust government to do what is right, while trust in business as an institution is at 45 per cent.
Michelle Hutton, Edelman Australia's Chief Executive Officer, said Australians have high expectations from business, with 74 per cent saying companies should be involved in solving social and environmental problems.
"The public expects business to do more than just make money and create jobs," she said.
"They expect business to improve the world it operates in, act ethically, treat employees well and help local communities.
"This is the difference between trusted and distrusted companies."
The study found listening to customer needs (70 per cent) and having ethical business practices (69 per cent) are the top drivers of trust for business, together with delivering quality products (69 per cent), placing the customer ahead of profits (68 per cent) and treating its employees well (67 well).
Technology is the most trusted industry sector in Australia and globally, remaining in first place for the fourth straight year.
Source: RMIT University http://www.rmit.edu.au/browse;ID=2lj1d0t6vqkq;STATUS=A