Case Studies Blog

Are companies becoming less trustworthy?

27th October 2014

First it was our public institutions such as parliament, children’s services and the police force who were exposed as being somewhat flawed following a series of scandals such as Hillsborough 1989, Baby P 2007, MP’s expenses scandal 2009 and of course most recently Rochdale 2012. Then financial services companies showed that even household names in the industry were not behaving ethically or responsibly, miss selling PPI, Libor rate rigging and interest rate rigging. Next it was retail’s turn to face the music, Tesco, Amazon, ebay, Google, Starbucks all came under fire, in some cases for breaking the spirit of tax law rather than the letter of it.  So what are we to conclude?

Are companies less trustworthy than they were or simply they are getting caught? Do they believe customers don’t really care one way or the other about how companies behave as long as their products and services are good? Has corporate reputation come to mean being slightly better behaved than your peers?

There was a time not long ago when British and even US companies were seen as being beyond reproach, a beacon of hope and a centre of excellence for other companies that could never hope to reach our lofty heights. Companies like Samsung, Hyundai, ASE Group, Ayala Corporation, Asian Paints and Tata must be wondering how brand UK in particular can have fallen quite so low quite so fast.  Perhaps it is time UK companies put ethical behavior and the pursuit of excellence ahead of profit as even the most cynical shareholder will come to see it pays higher dividends in the end.