CP Scott was the Editor of the Guardian newspaper for an amazing 57 years starting in 1872. He was the man who wrote the well-known article that includes the words “Comment is free, but facts are sacred… The voice of opponents no less than that of friends has a right to be heard.”
That bit of history made the Guardian a very appropriate venue for the Great Business Debate’s latest – and, to date, largest live event. Over eighty people – business leaders, students and Which? campaign supporters – discussing what more businesses can do to build trust with consumers.
We’re holding live events as part of our campaign because businesses want a real conversation about what they do and we can provide a platform for that. (In fact, at the Guardian, a platform and some very colourful modernist chairs too). Plus, exactly as Scott said, we want to have constructive challenge just as much as praise. We genuinely want to confront the issues head on – an approach that seemed to get a welcome in the room, even from those who don’t instinctively agree that business wants to do the right thing by consumers.
Now, the last feedback card is in (incidentally it was one of a few that said that ‘businesses should deliver on their promises’). We’ve rolled up our banners and sent the thank you-s.
So what did we discover?
Our panel did a great job of answering what were sometimes tricky questions.
Here are a few of my impressions:
- No-one felt trust in business doesn’t matter but they do think it’s been impacted
- Some people do believe ‘profit’ is a dirty word
- Some think the business community has been too defensive and companies should speak up more about the good things they do
- When making decisions that affect his firm’s customers, one of our panellists told us he is thinking, ‘If my mother was in the room now what would she make of what I’m doing?’
- And, those roll-up banners only work if the last person who used them hasn’t lost any of the supporting poles!
You can hear our Can Consumers Trust Business podcast hosted by television business journalist Steph McGovern here (and look out for our best-of-the-debate podcast later this week)
Read CBI Deputy Director-General Katja Hall’s article Profit is not a dirty word when businesses deliver for consumers’ here
And let us have your comments here and on twitter @bizdebate
Holly Hardisty is Senior Policy Adviser for The Great Business Debate.