The sharing economy, something we are passionate about at AnyGood?, is growing faster than ever. In fact, it is projected to be worth $335 billion worldwide by 2025. In previous blogs, we have praised the sharing economy and the innovations it has brought. However, one important aspect that is often overlooked, and key to the success of the sharing economy companies, is trust. As a system which essentially facilitates the sharing of resources between strangers, collaborative consumption requires a huge amount of trust. While you may think that it’s obvious I would be saying this – I’m not alone. In fact, a recent PwC survey showing 89% of consumers felt the most important aspect of the sharing economy was trust between providers and users. On top of this, 69% of those surveyed said they would not trust a sharing-economy company unless recommended by someone they personally have faith in. This reflects our own research at AnyGood?, which showed us that people are far more likely to go for job roles when put forward by a personal contact, and employers are far more likely to hire someone recommended by a professional contact. But, how is it that trust in the sharing economy is built?

Trust in the sharing economy

Trust is clearly an important commodity for consumers. In fact, a recent PwC study on consumer attitudes toward brand leadership found that consumers today value qualities such as authenticity and reliability more than ever. Despite this, trust is at an all-time low in a number of areas of our society, especially in traditional institutions. Polls have shown that only 12% of people have trust in the press, 14% in the banks and just 16% in politicians. In fact, only 42% of us would even trust our own neighbours! In the 1970’s, American polls showed that nearly 50% of people felt that most people could be trusted, a figure that now sits at 31%.  Interestingly enough, compared to these statistics, our trust in the sharing economy currently stands at an impressive 88%. So, what is it they are doing differently?

‘Virtual trust’

As we have mentioned, trust in the sharing economy is highly dependent on putting faith in complete strangers, and with confidence at an all-time low, you wouldn’t expect sharing economy companies to be as successful as they are. However, this is where innovation comes into play. According to Rachel Botsman, one of the world’s leading experts on trust and the sharing economy, through collaborative consumption, we are ‘moving to a system where we are more confident in people than corporations or government’, and the technology used by sharing economy companies has established an instantaneous ‘virtual trust’ among users. Technology such as digital ranking systems, similar to the star ratings used by Airbnb and Uber can essentially engineer trust into our interactions. This has expedited the process of gaining trust. The method for doing this relies on reputation. This is now quantified and built into these platforms to such an extent that people are very happy to put their faith in them. Botsman defines the mechanism for building this as ‘reputation capital’, calling it ‘the sum value of your online and offline behaviours across communities and marketplaces.’ This is exactly where AnyGood? utilises this new landscape in order to build trust and, in turn, fairness and equality in hiring.

Reputation matters

The power of reputation is central to AnyGood? and our efforts to build trust. Our members, already known for their expertise, put forward candidates from their own personal networks, and are rated by clients on the quality of their recommendations. Simply put, suggesting good candidates creates a strong reputation, and earns trust. This extends to all sides of the system, with employers more likely to trust that they are being offered good candidates, and less likely to bring their own bias to the hiring process. Candidates are also more likely to apply for roles, as they have been put forward by someone who intimately knows their professional capabilities. Here, we use the same ‘reputation capital’ that is key for bringing trust to the shared economy to the hiring process. It’s a simple but effective process.

Exciting times ahead

It’s clear that sharing economy platforms, when managed in the right way, lend themselves to increased trust back to between consumers. Furthermore, by introducing AnyGood?’s system to hiring, we can bring this trust back to the recruitment process, somewhere it is extremely lacking. By creating a fairer, more equitable process, with trust boosted at every level, we’re hoping everyone involved, from hiring managers to candidates and members can all benefit from the system. It’s hugely exciting to be a part of the sharing economy, and part of the disruption to traditional industries, that in many cases, couldn’t come soon enough. As we continue to grow and attract investment from across the board, we hope to be at the forefront of this movement.

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