In the aftermath of the Great Recession, the public images of top business leaders are hurting — and they know it.

Some of Canada's biggest executives are wrapping up a two-day forum in Banff Saturday. The focus of the meeting, held annually in a different Canadian city, is on how the public views corporate leaders.

"There's been a period over the last 10 or 15 years where CEOs have been seen very negatively," said Hal Kvisle, president and CEO of Talisman Energy. 

In Canada, the economy lost roughly 400,000 jobs between October 2008 and November 2009, at the height of the recession. 

That sent unemployment rates soaring to an 11-year high of 8.6 per cent.

"The attitudes towards corporate leaders now are worse than at any other time in modern times," said Frank Luntz, an American political consultant and pollster. "That's because so many of these large corporations had to lay off people."

More than ever, business leaders are being asked by the public to prove that they're acting in the public good.

To do that, they'll have to build a better sense of trust with the communities they serve, says Perrin Beatty, a former Mulroney cabinet minister and current president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

"There's a sense of cynicism that people have about whether or not people running institutions, whether or not the institutions themselves have my interests at heart," Beatty says.

The 12th annual Banff Forum wraps up Saturday.