Diageo's Ian Wright: The public has a healthy distrust of business right now

MT'S REPUTATION WEEK IN ASSOCIATION WITH BSI: Ian Wright, corporate relations director at British drinks firm Diageo, says the horsemeat saga and the behaviour of banks are damaging the reputation of business.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013


The recent horsemeat scandal, the lowering of corporation tax and the controversy surrounding Britain's banks following the financial crash has led to the public having a 'really healthy distrust' of business, Diageo's director of corporate relations has warned.

'Business has a real task on its hands to try and inject some more trust and to bring back the situation,' Ian Wright said during a roundtable discussion on rebuilding trust, recently hosted by MT and BSI. 'The horsemeat saga is a massive problem. There's a generation that will now never trust the supermarkets again.'

Ian Wright also said there is a need for restraint on excess when it comes to the pay of top executives. But he conceded this doesn't always apply when the CEO is perceived to be doing a good job. 'Paul Walsh [Diageo's CEO], earned £10m last year. He's the highest-paid chief executive in the FTSE 100. But that figure didn't attract any criticism because we've quadrupled the share price in 10 years. So there is a willingness to trust people if they're successful.'

Wright also believes the British public can be hypocritical when objecting to a business's practices and ethics. 'You've got to bear in mind that the British public has a massive capacity for hypocrisy. The same people who complain that multinational companies don't pay their taxes will pay their window cleaner in cash,' he said.

This video is the second part of a Reputation Week special

Find out more about MT’s Reputation Week in association with BSI.

Read the full discussion with panellists including Andy Street, MD of John Lewis, Giles Andrews, founder and CEO of Zopa, and Baroness Kingsmill.


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