‘Integrity’ key to rebuilding public trust in business


Integrity within business is “critical” to rebuilding trust in financial and professional services, according to fresh research.

The Corporation has spent the last 12 months promoting previous Lord Mayor Charles Bowman’s ‘Business of Trust’ agenda, designed to repair some of the reputational damage inflicted by bankers during the financial crisis in 2008.

On a global level, only half (52%) of all people surveyed as part of 2017’s Edelman Trust Barometer placed their faith in business, with 43% trusting the word of the media, and 41% in governments.

Today, key findings from City Corporation research show that 46% of the public say a focus on integrity is the most important principle firms should focus on in order to rebuild public trust.

Views varied depending on occupation and sector; 54% of respondents from accountancy, banking and finance prioritised integrity; 36% from healthcare prioritised competence and skills; and 43% from marketing, advertising and PR backgrounds called for clear communication.

Speaking just before leaving office to make way for Peter Estlin, Mr Bowman said that incorporating these key values into business operations was paramount to changing attitudes.

He added: “There is no short-term fix or single solution, with different communities and age groups prioritising different principles as most important to building trust – but by taking a lead on demonstrating positive actions and values, firms can meet the changing expectations of society.

“With behaviour and culture increasingly under the public microscope businesses are looking to review their values and culture to meet the changing and varied expectations of consumers, employees and the public.”

The survey, conducted between March and November, received more than 600 respondents.

It also found that millennials have different views on the drivers of trust than their parents and grandparents. Only one in 10 of those aged over 66 prioritise ‘value to society’ as the most important driver of trust in business, but this principle becomes increasingly important when moving down the generations.

More than a quarter (26%) of those aged over 19 and under 30 said it was the most important principle to improving trust.

Other popular actions to increase trust included; empowering frontline staff with the tools to resolve customer/client problems, incorporating organisational values into appraisals, and publishing chief executives’ contact details, so that stakeholders can provide direct feedback.

Alongside the survey, the City has launched a website (navigatingthetrustjourney.com) to help businesses navigate the “complex area” of trust.