02 September 2019
Encouragingly, the reputation of business has improved since the last wave of the tracker in September 2018. Last year a series of events and scandals in the business community had a chilling effect on business reputation, but 2019 has seen this reputational chill start to thaw, with a 4-point rise in those thinking business reputation is good (60%).
As a result, the public is increasingly aware of the role of business as a force for good in society (59%). However, with just over two in five (42%) believing that businesses are working to improve people’s lives in their local areas, there is a clear opportunity for businesses to amplify the good they do in their communities by creating jobs and supporting public services.
76% of UK adults are choosing who to interact with based on reputation, using purchasing power to send a message to businesses. In fact, they 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%) can go a long way to restoring a business’s reputation.
Commenting on the research, Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:
“Businesses know that their reputation is their lifeblood. After another difficult year for firms, it’s great to see evidence that their hard work to support employees and keep the U.K. 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, the benefits of demonstrating firms positive impact can affect everything from a company’s bottom line to the talent it attracts.
“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.
“Amid the uncertainty of Brexit, businesses can be the foundation stone of communities, improving livelihoods, fuelling ambition and driving investment. High profile initiatives by Richer Sounds, BT, Capita and others show business doing more than ever before to ensure the UK’s prosperity is inclusive, shared by everyone in all regions and nations.”
The shift online by consumers has meant people are more inclined to trust information from other customers (46%) rather than the companies themselves (28%). Strikingly, the public is more receptive to the information shared by company employees (35%).
Finally, with ongoing Brexit uncertainty, one in two (49%) adults think businesses will find the next year difficult. The public is thus keen for businesses to focus their efforts on the basics, for example continuing to offer training and development (53%), as well as an added focus on health and wellbeing (49%).
Commenting on the research, Eleanor Turner, Director of Corporate Reputation & Purpose, at Porter Novelli London, said:
“At this time of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever for business to recognise the link between purpose and reputation, trust and customer loyalty. This year’s tracker provides examples of companies that have ‘baked’ purpose into their business, putting it at the top of the boardroom agenda and consequently reaped the rewards.
“Importantly, it also highlights the value consumers place on employee wellbeing, plus the role of the employee in being advocates of purpose and influencing whether their employer is perceived as ‘walking the talk’. Business leaders therefore need to ensure they not only find their purpose, but also truly live it.”
Adam Wilson, Associate Director at Opinium, added:
“In recent years we have seen the emergence of the ‘conscious consumer’. It’s almost a given that people want businesses to meet their expectations when it comes to their more tangible needs such as excellent customer service and good value for money. However, more and more we’re seeing consumers redefine the “basics” and entwine their ethics in their purchasing habits. They don’t just want to champion issues like health and wellbeing behind closed doors, they want to buy and work for companies that support this too.”