Employers' group the CBI has drawn up a series of measures to stop badly performing executives walking away from their jobs with multi-million pound pay-offs.
The body wants to see greater clarity over the terms of directors' contracts and changes to the way severance payments are made.
It hopes this will stop the government imposing new rules on business to prevent 'fat cat' pay rows.
"The over-riding drive is to re-establish the reputation of business because we've got to get the trust of the general public back," CBI director general Digby Jones told BBC Radio Five Live.
"We have to be seen to be getting our own house in order."
The CBI's proposals come as a response to a consultation paper issued by the Department of Trade & Industry.
In June the DTI's paper - entitled "Rewards for Failure" - put forward different strategies for tying directors' pay more closely to performance.
These included shortening directors' notice periods to one year or less, and encouraging firms to insert clauses limiting severance pay into their employment contracts.
The move followed a series of high profile protests by shareholders against large pay outs to top executives leaving firms.
The most high profile example came when shareholders in drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline voted down a pay package that entitled chief executive Jean-Pierre Garnier to up to $35m (£22m) if he left the job early.
No red tape
But Mr Jones said he wanted business to put its own house in order rather than having rules imposed by the government.
"The last thing in the world we need in business is more red tape from the top," he said.
The CBI wants the contract terms of company directors to be announced in plain English as soon as they are agreed.
It is also recommending one-year rolling contracts for directors and says shares should make up part of directors' pay in order to align their interests with those of shareholders.
It also wants severance payments to be made in monthly instalments and to exclude things like unearned bonuses or extra pension money.