A UK survey published today has revealed a substantial difference in the sectors regarded as most and least trustworthy by business and IT leaders.

Its findings suggest trust depends more on traditionally ‘softer’ or ethical factors such as strength of leadership, respect for customers and employees, sustainability, and responsible marketing ahead of financial indicators like increasing shareholder value, building market share and profitability.

Retail banking came out top, as the most trusted than any other sector, with 34% of business and IT leaders citing it as the most trusted industry type.

By contrast, none of the respondents trusted the entertainment and media industries, and the healthcare industry was only trusted by 3% of the 371 UK business and IT leader respondents. By contrast, local Government is a more highly trusted sector with 19%, along with education and professional service providers who are trusted by 17%.

Two key indicators – a company’s general reputation (65%) and financial condition (49%) – were cited as the key points by which trustworthiness is evaluated.

Other evidence such as ‘certification of security standards’ (18%), policies and procedures (5%) and experience of IT security (4%) were seen as far less important.

The survey was conducted alongside similar research in the US, which found a distinct difference in how Americans view their industries. In the US, healthcare was judged as highly trusted, along with retail banking, however American local government fared badly. The US survey agreed with the UK results however in finding a distinct lack of trust in both the media and entertainment industries.

Nick Wilson, UK, Middle East and Africa vice president and general manager of IT vendor and survey sponsor, Unisys said: “These findings offer a compelling insight into how we view the trustworthiness of key industries. Particularly, the indicators on which trustworthiness is based give good reading and points for thought for those businesses looking to heighten their profile.”