The research, which paints a less-than-flattering picture of the way top-level executives are perceived, suggests that sixty per cent of people do not trust business leaders to tell the truth.
The study, which was commissioned by the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE), found issues of responsibility, integrity and honesty are the main areas the public want British business to address.
The top issues of concern were cited as executive pay at 38 per cent and discrimination at 36 per cent, while environmental responsibility came in at 33 per cent.
The study found that 80 per cent of those questioned believed that ‘large companies have a moral responsibility to society’, but 61 per cent also thought ‘large companies don’t really care’.
The research was used to unveil an IBE guide on the issue, called Developing a Code of Business Ethics, which offers practical advice for companies that want to tackle ethical issues.
IBE research director Simon Webley said: ‘Having a code of ethics is a
powerful tool, but only if it is rooted in the core values of the business.’
In a separate development, Mori is merging its public sector and corporate reputation work to create a new division called the Reputation Centre, headed by director of corporate comms research Stewart Lewis and head of social research Ben Page.
The pair retain their existing titles and will be supported by a team of ‘senior colleagues’, while sister Mori media evaluation arm Test Research will also play a role. The Centre will pool expertise from both public and private sector work.
Lewis said: ‘This is formalising something that used to happen informally.’
The Centre has organised a conference on 14 October featuring talks by BP and British American Tobacco executives.