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.