90 per cent want businesses to speak up on societal issues

According to a study carried out by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) the British public want businesses to be more outspoken on societal issues, including digital privacy to diversity.

The study, conducted by Opinium in partnership with the CBI and Porter Novelli, notes a 9 per cent fall in those thinking the reputation of UK business is good (56 per cent) since the previous survey in October 2017 (65 per cent).

However, the CBI believes that the foundations for improved business reputation are being built, with the public’s knowledge about the contribution of business up (54 per cent) and an improved public perception of business leaders (up 10 per cent since May last year).

Issues that remain a particular impediment to public approval are the fair treatment of employees, paying a fair share of tax and tackling unfair pay.

It is not just in action that people expect businesses to act, with more than 9 out of 10 people (92 per cent) saying that businesses should take a stance on social issues, such as immigration, climate change and inequality. In fact, 72 per cent of the public are prepared to champion companies which stand up for what they believe and challenge politicians.

Showing how businesses contribute to a more prosperous society will clearly improve businesses’ reputations, and assist with this the CBI has published an employers’ guide to help firms of all sizes think about their role and behaviour to support the communities they operate in.

Addition results show that three quarters (75 per cent) of the public believe that businesses should work with ethical suppliers and partners, and the same majority say it is important that companies are environmentally friendly and oppose climate change.

Turning to employees, 71 per cent say their employer’s contribution to society is positive, implying that those inside a company tend to appreciate its efforts more than those outside, a conclusion that might be supported by the fact that only 54 per cent of the public say that they understand how a company works.

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