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Millenials particularly positive

Reputation of business rises despite scandals

EU Brexit

The reputation of business does not appear to have been harmed by Brexit uncertainty

More people believe businesses in the UK have a good reputation, despite the publicity over issues such as tax avoidance and banking misbehaviour.

New research, comparing perceptions of businesses between May and November 2017, reveals 2 in 3 people think UK businesses have a good reputation, up 7% in six months.

The tracker, conducted by the CBI in partnership with global PR agency, Porter Novelli, and research company, Opinium, revealed that the public are more aware of the value business provides in local communities.

The improvement in business reputation has largely been driven by young people and those in work, with a significant 15% rise in positive views among 18-34 year olds.

The CBI says this reinforces the view that younger people are more engaged in the debate about the UK’s future, with the Brexit negotiations and a sharper political debate intensifying the focus on jobs and the economy.

The survey found that the key driver of business reputation is a sense of pride in British business. The quality of British goods and services and the global reputation of UK business were cited by the public as having the biggest impact on reputation.


The tracker shows most people have a positive relationship with their employer (67%) and highlights the importance of businesses treating their employees well, with a 9% rise in the number of people saying that this is the best way to improve business reputation (now 69%).

The same principle applies to the treatment of customers, with a 7% rise in those saying customer service is a priority when interacting with business (now 72%).

There remains, however , a serious challenge for business with only half of people saying they understand how a company works, and 68% believing that CEOs are out of touch with people’s lives.

More than eight in ten (82%) of respondents also said a firm’s record on data security is important when choosing which businesses to buy from – a clear warning sign to businesses given recent high-profile data breaches.

Fenella Grey, managing director of Porter Novelli London, said: “There are a number of genuinely surprising results that go against expectations.


“The fact that the reputation of business has improved over the past months despite a backdrop of uncertainty caused by Brexit and slowing economic growth is really positive news for the UK. It shows ‘UK plc’ is alive and kicking, and remains an important place to do business.

“What is really unexpected is that this positive shift in opinion occurred amongst millennials who in reality have the greatest number of reasons to be unhappy, as they will be working with an uncertainty created by a Brexit the majority of them didn’t want.

“Businesses need to see that the better you regard your employees, the better the public regard you.”

Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general, said: “CBI members are in no doubt: trust underpins growth. A strong relationship between business, employees and consumers will help to increase standards of living. Trust is built on understanding – the more the public see the benefits business brings, the better the relationship.

“But businesses up and down the country can do more to step up their engagement with employees and customers, to explain how they are making a positive difference in their communities and workplaces. Business must redouble their efforts to show that the horror stories of tax avoidance, poor employment practices and excessive pay are the exception not the rule.

“Treating employees well is the best place to start. Our findings show that companies which look after their employees will be rewarded by the public, who say this is the best way to improve their views about business.

“Clear communication about the value businesses create locally is also essential – all must junk the jargon. And companies should focus on the issues which matter most to people, starting with business value being an integrated part of local industrial strategies.

“Making a link between company performance and social outcomes is the very best way to shape the public’s view of companies as responsible citizens.”


% change since July

65% think the reputation of UK business is good


67% report positive relationship with their employer




50% understand how a company works


31% agree they know very little about what businesses actually do


69% agree the heads of business are far removed from the lives of ordinary people




66% think the biggest contribution business makes to society is by providing jobs


72% say customer service is most valued factor when interacting with business


69% believe treating employees well is best way to improve reputation of business




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