Brexit debate ‘boosting faith in British business’

Perception of business in the UK is becoming increasingly positive, according to a report by the CBI. The report suggests improving opinion is boosted by millenials entering the workplace.

British business perception on the rise
Increasing number of Britons are expressing confidence in the reputation and economic role of UK businesses, according to the latest Sentiment Tracker, published by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Brexit debate focussing on business

A prime reason for increased backing for the standing of UK companies – up by seven per cent between May and November 2017 – appears to be that the intensifying Brexit debate has concentrated the public’s attention on the importance of business to the national economy.The Sentiment Tracker, compiled by the CBI in conjunction with global PR agency Porter Novelli and research company Opinium, found that two-thirds of the public now have faith in the reputation of UK businesses with growing numbers aware of contributions companies make to local communities.“Importantly, the improvement in business reputation has largely been driven by young people and those in work, with a significant 15 per cent rise in positive views among 18-34 year olds. 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,” said the CBI.
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Perception of business in the UK

The survey found that the key driver of public perception rested on a sense of pride in British business with the quality of goods and services, along with the global reputation of UK business, cited as having the biggest impact on reputation. The research also found a growing awareness of the importance of the nation’s service economy.But the CBI added, “There remains however a serious challenge for business with only half of people saying they understand how a company works, and 68 per cent believing that CEOs are out of touch with people’s lives; 82 per cent 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.”

CBI promotes trust in business

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. “That’s why these findings are potentially significant. Since May, the debate about the role which business plays in society has reached new levels. This debate has rightly focused minds on the value of business in providing jobs, paying taxes and making the goods and services we all need. “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 re-double their efforts to show that the horror stories of tax avoidance, poor employment practices and excessive pay are the exception not the rule.”

Positivity towards business from millennials

Fenella Grey, managing director of Porter Novelli London, added, “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.” 
Relocate Magazine Winter 2017 front cover
Read more about the future of the UK business in the Winter issue of our magazine
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