28 February 2022

Distrust threatens societal stability

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Adviser


One of the findings from the annual Edelman Trust Barometer survey is a cycle of distrust that is threatening societal stability both here in Australia and globally. The survey results were published on February 16th, a little over a week before Russia invaded the Ukraine.

Australia trapped in a cycle of distrust



The Edelman data focuses on trust in the key institutions of Government, NGOs, Business and Media and uncovers a failure of societal leadership that has made distrust the default among Australians. More than half of Australians see the Government and media as more divisive then unifying for society, while more Australians than not viewed business and NGOs as more unifying for society.

Looking specifically at media, the data shows trust has fallen across the board with traditional media faring the best but still only trusted by 48% of Australians, down 5 points. Search engines are down 4 points to 47%; owned media is down 5 points to 33% and social media is down 8 points to 24%. It is no surprise then that concerns about disinformation and fake news remain high with 73% of Australians worried about false information being used as a weapon.



The data also shows an erosion of trust in society’s traditional leaders, with only 43% of Australians trusting both government leaders and CEOs, each down 9 and 5 points respectively from 2021. In addition, a majority of Australians believe that journalists (65%), government leaders (61%) and business leaders (61%) are actively trying to mislead them by saying things they know are false or grossly exaggerated.



A majority of Australians (55%) said their default tendency is to distrust something until they see evidence it is trustworthy and 61% say Australians are incapable of having constructive and civil debates about issues they disagree on.

Societal leadership becomes a business imperative

The Edelman survey shows all stakeholders now hold business accountable for taking a stand on issues that align with their values and beliefs. Fifty-six per cent of Australian consumers will buy or advocate for brands based on their belief and values; 57% of Australian employees will choose a place to work based on their beliefs and values, and 64% of investors make financial decisions based on their beliefs and values.



This expectation for business to take a stand on social issues is putting greater pressure on CEOs to personally lead on change and be visible. Eight in ten Australian’s believe CEOs should be visible discussing policies or work their company has done to benefit society with external stakeholders.

Business poised to break cycle of distrust

Business is now also the only institution that is perceived as both competent and ethical – bestowing upon it a clear mandate for driving social change. Add to that the data shows employers continue to enjoy strong levels of trust with their employees, with nearly three quarters of Australian employees (74%) saying they trust their employer. Employers’ communications are also a highly trusted source of information. 70% of Australians say they trust communication from their employer compared to 63% for government, 58% for media reports with named sources and 51% for advertising.

If business is to become the institution that starts to rebuild trust in Australia, then its ability to provide high quality and reliable information cannot be overstated. The effective communication of ‘quality information’ was found to be the number one most powerful trust builder across all the institutions in the survey.

28 January 2022

ESG Reporting in 2021

ROWAN CLARKE, Investor Relations At FIRST Advisers, a number of our clients are starting to focus on the task of reporting on their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance for the first time. This reflects the increased momentum that has been gathering in recent years, particularly in the ASX 300. We first undertook a review […]

Read More
30 November 2021

Consolidation of ESG Reporting Frameworks moves a step closer

VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director. The big news this month was the announcement by the Chair of the IFRS Foundation, timed for release at COP26 on 3 November, of another important step towards the realization of global sustainability disclosure standards. At present there are a number of different frameworks that companies can use to guide how […]

Read More
30 November 2021

The Decline in Traditional Shareholder Activism

VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director. Annual General Meeting season has just concluded and while the stats are still being collated for the final quarter, we already know that the role of climate and environmental activists in pursuing their agenda has continued to increase this year.  Data collected by Insightia from Q1 to Q3 over the past […]

Read More
27 July 2021

Starting the ESG journey

ROWAN CLARKE, Investor Relations At FIRST Advisers, we are increasingly offering advice to companies on how to best position themselves to meet investor demand for ESG accountability. What was once seen as a topic for socially conscious asset managers, is now widely adopted by investors. ESG was a hot topic at the US based National […]

Read More
31 May 2021

ESG at the Vanguard of proxy voting

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communication and Media Advisor. The financial markets adage is if Wall Street sneezes other markets catch cold. So it is worth keeping an eye on what’s happening in US financial markets as trends there tend to inform decision making elsewhere. In this context we have been interested to note how Vanguard, one of […]

Read More
30 April 2021

Proxy Advisors in a time of COVID

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communication and Media Advisor The Coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world, we canvassed the three main Proxy Advisory firms operating in Australia Ownership Matters, CGI Glass Lewis and ISS to get a sense of what impact corporate and government responses to the pandemic has had on governance and their voting recommendations. Widening […]

Read More
30 April 2021

The Convergence of ESG and Activist forces

VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director Activism during COVID A review of the impact of COVID 19 on activism globally in 2020 would suggest that it largely reinforced the trend of slowing activity that has been evident since its peak in 2018. In Australia the number of companies publically subjected to activists’ demands returned to the annual […]

Read More
4 March 2021

Locking in the Trust premium

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communication and Media Advisor Trust in Australian Institutions has surged during the Coronavirus pandemic to reach all-time highs.  This resurgence of trust means, in Australia,  the institutions of Business, Government, Media and NGO’s are all now viewed as competent where just 12 months ago only Business was seen to be so. Two institutions, […]

Read More
31 January 2021

Fink doubles down on climate

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communication and Media Advisor Restating that climate risk is investment risk, Larry Fink, the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Blackrock, the world’s biggest and arguably most powerful investor, is calling for companies to share their plans for the transition to a net zero economy in his annual letter to CEOs. Mr Fink […]

Read More
11 December 2020

2020! A year like no other

2020 was a year filled with extreme and extraordinary events. All of which played out in the context of the extraordinary global health crisis that is the Coronavirus pandemic. A year of extremes Here in Australia we endured bush fire disasters, the death of the Holden car brand and the tragedy of SAS war crimes […]

Read More
30 October 2020

ESG Reporting among the ASX300

DAN JONES, Manager Shareholder Analytics As institutional investors increasingly demand more accountability for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance, companies face pressure to improve their standards of ESG reporting. However, unlike financial data, ESG information has no legislated or regulatory reporting guidelines or formats so the mechanism for delivery and any adoption of a reporting […]

Read More
29 June 2020

The Tipping Point for ESG is Now (Part Two)

VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director. In Part 1 of our article on ESG last month* we looked at the extent to which ESG reporting has gained hold in Australia and whether the strong performance of ESG funds recently might represent a moment in time when investing according to ESG principles becomes mainstream. We introduced the Standard […]

Read More
28 May 2020

The Tipping Point for ESG is Now

VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director. The relentless push towards the adoption of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting by companies across the globe appears to be gaining momentum. As entire populations have gone into hibernation in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the topic of greatest interest in the global investment community is […]

Read More
30 January 2020

Time to confront climate change

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor Every Government, company and shareholder must confront climate change according to Larry Fink, CEO and Chairman of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. In his annual letter to CEO’s, Mr Fink says a rapidly growing awareness amongst investment market participants of the risks climate change poses to economic […]

Read More
30 October 2019

Australian Activism: Down but far from out

VICTORIA GEDDES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR As we approach the end of the year with, realistically, less than two months left to launch and complete a new campaign, the stats already tell us most of what we need to know about the changing shape of activism in Australia in 2019. Activity is 20% down on last year’s […]

Read More
29 June 2019

Is 2019 ‘The Year of the ESG Fund’?

BEN REBBECK, Executive Director The ascendency of ESG matters within Fund managers, Board rooms and with IROs has unquestionably been rising rapidly in recent years. In this context, a question we often address from Directors and IRO is: Are ESG funds just another short term market trend, like ‘Hedge Funds’ were some 5 to 10 years […]

Read More

Archives