Trust at Work: 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer

Lorna Irungu-Macharia, Managing Director of The Gina Din Group, Susan Ng’ong’a, Managing Director of Emergency Plus Medical Services, KEPSA Director and Regional Director Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies – Seed, Patricia Ithau, Edelman Business Unit Director Karena Crerar and Gina Din-Kariuki, Founder and Executive Chair of The Gina Din Group

Edelman and Gina Din Group in partnership with KEPSA and E – Plus launched the 19th Annual Trust Barometer at the Nairobi Serena hotel.

Among the highlights of this year’s survey is a modest rise in the Global Trust Index for non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Business, Government and Media in all other countries surveyed, except Kenya, where trust in all four institutions decreased reflecting increased pessimism and worry among the general population.

Government is the least trusted institution in a sample of 10 African countries – Kenya, Morocco, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Cote d’ Ivoire, Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Angola.  However, trust in Media amongst the 10 African countries exceeds the global average of trust in Media.

Business is the most trusted in 10 African countries with most Kenyans showing trust in the institution with Angola showing the highest trust in Business followed by Tanzania. Professional services have the highest trust of Kenyans for Business followed by Education and Energy. Kenyans trust Transportation services the least for Business.

Overall, average trust in institutions by the general public fell four points from 2018 to 2019. Interestingly for Kenya, there has been a massive rise in news engagement with Traditional Media the most trusted source of news followed by General Search Engines and Owned Media. Social and Online Media are the least-trusted.

The increased trust of traditional media reflects the fact that more Kenyans (73%) are worried about false information or fake news being used as a weapon. Kenyans also trust social media influencers, bloggers and celebrities the least as voices of authority, instead showing more trust in ordinary Kenyans.

KEPSA Deputy Chief Executive Officer Rachel Muthoga gives remarks at the launch of the 2019 Edelman East Africa Trust Barometer Report

The research shows that Kenyans expect employers to build more trust in their products and services, with companies that produce high quality products and services having the greatest trust. Around 94% of Kenyans believe company decisions reflect the values of the firm.

The research challenges CEOs to take up bigger roles in effecting change with regard to job creation, general economic prosperity of the country, skills training, and fighting discrimination. CEOs are expected to be proactive in responding to industry issues, political events, national crises and employee-driven issues.

More Kenyans are looking to their employers to provide certainty during challenging times with 58% saying that they look to their employers to be trustworthy sources of information about social issues and other important topics on which there is not general agreement.

Even more interesting for the Business sector is that 64% of Kenyans believe that companies can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the communities where it operates.

For businesses such as E-Plus, the emergency response service run by the Kenya Red Cross, trust as a model of business operations is built by incorporating the community, their staff and the government in every step of their operations. This, is a great example of how NGOs leverage on transparency and accountability making them the most trusted sector in the 4 sectors surveyed  under the Trust for the last 19 years.

The research established that the private sector in Kenya has to increase its focus on the business of doing good and adopt shared values in order to be entrusted by consumers and also their employees. Businesses need to ask themselves what their purpose is to society, and what social impact they making, said Ms Ithau.

The research shows that the ecosystem for the employer-employee contract has changed drastically with most employees looking to their CEOs to step up and take a bigger lead in effecting social change. Employers should empower their employees because they are the biggest ambassadors. In this new era with digital access, internal memos are no longer private, they will find their way to WhatsApp and out of your organization. As a business it is important that the mission and values are lived and breathed and not just slogans on a wall. Communication and implementation of this is no longer seen as a function of a department, but of the business and the CEO of the business needs to take the lead added Ms. Irungu-Macharia in her closing remarks.

As this work space continues to diversify and with the impact of social media, the work environment needs to be flexible enough to accommodate the emerging social needs.

You may view the full 2019 East Africa report here.

Should you have any further questions, please reach out to Lorna Irungu-Macharia at: or Wanjiru Kariuki at: