Digby Jones, the director general of the CBI, said British business leaders needed to work harder at making business more relevant to the rest of society, after being knighted in the New Year Honours list.
He said it was up to business to "connect" with society and make people understand that commerce and industry play a crucial part in maintaining the fabric of the nation.
Mr Jones' comments came as the honours list recognised just one person running a UK business with a knighthood. That honour went to Alan Jones, the chairman of the Japan-owned Toyota in the UK, for services to the automotive industry.
One other business-related knighthood went to John Vickers, the chief executive of the Office of Fair Trading. Derek Wanless, the former chief executive of NatWest, was also knighted, but his honour was made in recognition of his efforts for public service rather than his career in banking. He is the author of the Wanless report into the National Health Service, which was published in February. A spokeswoman for No. 10 said the honours list contained the same proportion of business awards as usual, at about 17 per cent.
Others people in the business world who have been honoured include John Shepherd-Barron, the inventor of the cash machine, was created OBE. John Clare, the chief executive of Dixons, and Richard Bowker, the former chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority - who was recently in the running for the role of chief executive of the Football Association - were appointed CBE.
Another retailer to be created CBE was Antonio Denunzio, the chief executive of Asda, the Wal-Mart-owned supermarket chain, for services to the retail industry.