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Company reputation matters to three in four Brits

3 September 2019

Cropped image of businessman holding red business ethics block under wooden tower at tableA new survey has found that over three-quarters of people want to work for firms that have a good reputation.

The report, Everyone's Business, produced by the CBI in collaboration with Porter Novelli and Opinium, reveals that the reputation of business has improved since the last tracker was published in September 2018.

The findings show that the public is increasingly aware of the role of business as a force for good in society (59%). Last year, a series of scandals in the business community had a "chilling effect on business reputation", but 2019 has seen a four-point rise in those thinking business reputation is good (60%).

However, with just 42% believing that businesses are working to improve people's lives in their local areas, there is a clear opportunity for businesses to do more.

Three in four (76%) UK adults say they use purchasing power to send a message to businesses and are less likely to buy the products or services of a company with a bad reputation (79%). Aside from treating employees well (61%), a greater focus on gender pay (40%) and the environment (38%) would go a long way to restoring a business's reputation, the report concludes.

"Businesses know that their reputation is their lifeblood," said Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general. "After another difficult year for firms, it's great to see evidence that their hard work to support employees and keep the UK growing is recognised by the public. Our latest tracker shows an uptick in its reputation from last year. The focus on giving employees a stronger voice whether through employee share ownership or other such schemes, is being well received by the public.

"There is no question that more can be done, as 76% of the public say they would want to work for a business with a good reputation … employees are key. They are a company's ambassadors and the public trust their voices and seek them out. So great firms are doing all they can to engage them and help them tell on the ground stories. This starts with championing social causes that they feel are important, from closing the gender pay gap to reducing their carbon footprint."

The shift online by consumers means that people are more inclined to trust information from other customers (46%) rather than the companies themselves (28%). The public is also receptive to the information shared by company employees (35%).

Eleanor Turner, director of corporate reputation and purpose at Porter Novelli London, said: "It's more important than ever for business to recognise the link between purpose and reputation, trust and customer loyalty ... Business leaders need to ensure they not only find their purpose, but also truly live it."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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