Public opinion in business’s behaviour continues to improve

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For the second consecutive year, the British public’s opinion of business’s behaviour has improved as outlined in the latest survey from the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE).

The survey, carried out by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the IBE, shows that the public’s general opinion about ethical business behaviour has reached the highest level since the survey began in 2003.

62% of the British public now say they consider that business behaves ethically, compared  with 47% in 2003.

Millennials show the most positive change in opinion of all the age groups. 36% of Baby Boomers  (55+) think British Business is behaving unethically, compared with 32% of Generation X‐ers (35‐54) and 24% of Millennials (18 – 34).

For Millennials this is an improvement on 2017, when 36% thought British business was  behaving unethically.

Philippa Foster Back, IBE’s Director, said: “As global political uncertainty overshadows much of the news,  business in contrast seems to offer stability and appears more responsible in the eyes of the public.

“Social media  means that consumers can see that they are able to have an impact on business decision‐making, where they  may feel powerless to influence governments.”

The top two issues that the public think business needs to address – tax avoidance (33%) and executive pay (24%) ‐ remain unchanged, but this year environmental responsibility is joint second (24%).

Environmental responsibility has significantly regained focus as an issue for the British public after falling sharply  since 2008.

The increased media attention given to extreme weather and other consequences of pollution may help partly explain this trend – known as ‘The Blue Planet Effect’

Ms Foster Back added: “Business also appears to be becoming more proactive in recognising issues of concern  for the public, and going further than the law, for example, in addressing environmental concerns.

“However, the  fact that corporate tax avoidance and executive pay remain the top public concerns – albeit at a reduced  percentage ‐ is an example where business is still not doing enough to address ethical issues.”