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Rome Reports

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A crisis of trust: “Less than half the population trusts in leaders of institutions”

Aside from the health and economic crises battering the world today, there is another crisis impacting institutions, be they social, economic, religious or political. It's a crisis of trust.

Professor of Digital Communications
“The current crisis of trust affects all institutions. For instance, only 41 percent of the population trusts political leaders, 45 percent trust journalists, 48 percent entrepreneurs. In other words, less than half the population trusts in leaders who guide some institutions that have been the backbone of society for many years. In the case of religious leaders, the number is at 42 percent.”

Institutional Social Communications
“We also have this problem of trust within the Church, because there's a decrease in religious practice, which can be attributed not only to secularization but also to the fact that the Church is called to be a moral authority, and the people see that it sets a poor example. So this is leading to a decrease in trust of Church leaders.”

In a concerted effort to reestablish trust in institutions, the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome prepared a webinar series geared especially toward communicators. The goal is to equip them with tools to help institutions overcome the culture of suspicion dominating society today. 

Professor of Digital Communications
“This culture of suspicion is the result of three factors. A lack of coherence between values people preach and those they live out. The second is incapacity, because sometimes people have shown that they don't know how to do their jobs or how to serve others. Third, because they have shown that they don't care about the good of others.”

Professor Narbona offers four practical ways for institutions to inspire trust. The first is setting clear objectives; people are more willing to trust someone who knows where they’re going. The second is using actions when words are not enough. The third is learning to ask for forgiveness for wrongs committed. And the fourth is increasing transparency.

The webinar series, presented in English, Spanish and Italian, is divided into three sections: Trust and Identity, Vulnerability Management, and Recovering Trust. In the first session alone, over 500 people from 55 different countries participated. A promising sign that it is possible for institutions to inspire and maintain trust, a gift so painstakingly earned and so easily destroyed.