The time bomb of change is ticking.
People around the world are more distrustful of social media, only 20% agree the “system” is working for them, the majority are in fear of losing their jobs, have an “urgent desire for change,” and are “taking change into their own hands.”
The above results are just a few of the findings from the recent release of the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report. The company has been doing a comprehensive global study of “trust” since 2001.
My view of the report is that the clock is ticking for significant social and political change throughout the globe, as already shown in the “yellow vest” movement in France and to a lesser extent in Canada, India’s “Women’s Wall” push for equality, and employees and the general public showing no hesitation to take to the streets and demonstrate against environmental threats by industry and unfair labor practices.
Trust is the lifeblood of relationships between individuals or between the public and institutions and organizations. Trust is a necessity to maintain order, collaboration, openness, and especially moving forward in the face of uncertainty. The Edelman study shows that in 27 countries, public trust in institutions has dropped by half (52%) with 18 of the markets recording “double-digit trust gaps.” Where is the “highest ever trust inequality?” These are the countries where the fuse is not only lit for dramatic change but in some places also showing significant conflagration. It should be remembered that none of these countries operate in isolation. They are all part of a global network of interconnectivity. This means that any eruptions of change are highly contagious.
- The United Kingdom (trust gap of 24 points)
- Canada (trust gap of 20 points)
- Germany (trust gap of 18 points)
- France (trust gap of 17 points)
- India (trust gap of 17 points)
- South Korea (trust gap of 17 points
- Indonesia (trust gap of 14 points)
Who are the drivers of change in these countries? Edelman defines “amplifiers” as those who “consume news about weekly or more AND share or post content several times a month or more.” Their data shows that among the mass population the number of women “amplifiers” increased 13 percentage points between 2018 and 2019. But among the “informed public” the number of women amplifiers jumped by 23 percentage points, going to 57% of the total. As the report states, “more women than men become amplifiers.”
Is gender-linked activism important? You bet. In my research (public opinion polling in Canada and the United States) I found that the majority of those actively protesting social, economic, and political issues are what I term “passive-active” protesters. The data show them to be:
- 70-80% of protesters
- Law abiding / peaceful
- More women than men
- 25-54 years of age
- Middle income
- University/college educated
- Soft commitment
- Mixed agendas
- Public support
- Easy to identify with
Is there an appetite for people to be demonstrative in their feeling, values, and demand for change? Check out the results of the World Values survey below that shows how many people “might” partake in a peaceful protest under the right motivation in the countries with “the highest ever trust inequality.”
Look closely. The two countries with the largest gap “ever” in trust (Canada and the United Kingdom) are also the countries with the largest percentage of residents who “might” take part in a peaceful demonstration given the right motivation. Fear is a great motivator that can quickly turn to anger and action. And what does Edelman show as the greatest emotional fear triggers in those countries? Fear of loss of jobs, pessimism about the future, and a sense that “the system is failing me.”
Tick, tick, tick.