The Importance of Trust

The business community needs to embrace its leadership role to (re)build community trust

For more than 20 years, the Edelman Trust Barometer has studied the influence of trust across society — government, media, business, and non-government organizations (NGOs). The report by Edelman shows an interesting result: business is the only institution seen as competent and ethical. Among those who feel polarized, employers are the only trusted institution. 

People fear for their economic future without a trust safety net as economic optimism plummets. Consider, only 40% of respondents say they and their families will be better off in five years, a 10-point decline from 2022.

This fear and distrust breeds polarization, as outlined in the report showing many would not help, live near, or work with someone who disagreed with their point of view. Somewhat shockingly, only 30% would help others if they were in need; only 20% would be willing to live in the same neighborhood; and only 20% would be willing to have them as a coworker.

Businesses – the only entity which most people view as competent and ethical – must take the lead in rebuilding trust. Trust is a critical element in building and maintaining successful relationships and successful communities. Without trust, it’s difficult for individuals to conduct business with each other, and it can also lead to lost opportunities, missed sales, and damaged reputations.

Trust is essential in business and communities. Trust leads to stronger relationships: When you trust someone, you’re more likely to be open and honest with them. This can help you build stronger relationships with your neighbors, colleagues, employees, customers, and partners.

Trust builds credibility: Trustworthiness is a key aspect of credibility. When people trust you, they’re more likely to believe in your abilities, expertise, and judgment. This can be especially important when you’re trying to win new clients or build your brand.

Trust leads to better collaboration: When you trust your neighbors and colleagues, you’re more likely to live and work together effectively. This can lead to better communication, increased productivity, and better community outcomes.

Trust reduces risk: When you trust someone, you’re more likely to take risks with them. This can be especially important in business, where taking risks can lead to new opportunities and increased growth. It is equally important in communities, where taking risks can create communal value through new services or developments.

Trust is an essential component of building successful and sustainable relationships. It helps to establish credibility, promote collaboration, and reduce risk, ultimately leading to better outcomes and stronger relationships.

Edelman believes that trust is the ultimate currency in the relationship that all institutions — businesses, governments, NGOs, and media — build with their stakeholders. Trust defines an organization’s license to operate, lead and succeed. Trust is the foundation that allows an organization to take a responsible risk, and, if it makes mistakes, to rebound from them.

For a business, especially, lasting trust is the strongest insurance against competitive disruption, the antidote to consumer indifference, and the best path to continued growth. Without trust, credibility is lost, and reputation can be threatened.

Lack of faith in societal institutions triggered by economic anxiety, disinformation, mass-class divide, and a failure of leadership brought us to where we are today — deeply polarized. The social fabric of a community weakens amid deepening divisions. Fifty-three percent of respondents globally say that their countries are more divided today than in the past. 

Yet people still trust businesses. It is incumbent on the business community to acknowledge the challenge and take a leadership role in rebuilding trust. The data shows your community is not only looking for you to do so but really needs you to do so.


Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at