Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Corporate Execs: Nobody Trusts Us; U.S. Lacks Confidence in Business Ethics, Poll Says

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Corporate Execs: Nobody Trusts Us; U.S. Lacks Confidence in Business Ethics, Poll Says

Article excerpt

Byline: KEVIN TURNER

Most people think corporate America's leaders are concerned mostly about their own gain and not the public good, according to a poll released Thursday. Even high-level business executives agree with that assessment.

Overall, 76 percent of Americans and 58 percent of executives think corporate America's moral compass is pointing the wrong way, and more than half of Americans give U.S. companies low marks for honesty, ethical conduct and leadership.

The poll, commissioned by the Knights of Columbus and conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, surveyed 2,071 Americans and 110 high-level business leaders.

A whopping 94 percent of Americans and 93 percent of executives said corporate executives make decisions based on advancing their own careers; 69 percent of Americans responding said corporate executives' commitment to the public good rarely or never influenced their decisions, while 68 percent of upper executives agreed.

A clear majority of Americans say companies don't have to compromise on ethics to succeed, according to Andrew Walther, director of media relations for the Knights of Columbus. The poll results suggest Americans believe that if corporate leaders had been more ethical, the economic meltdown might not have occurred, he said.

"We can't act like it's the fault of the system," he said. "The system is made up of people who make decisions. These people don't have the confidence of the American people. That's a problem."

The no-confidence vote permeates the poll. Some 83 percent of Americans and 77 percent of executives said corporate American companies commonly make exaggerated claims about their products or services.

Some 71 percent of Americans and 54 percent of executives say companies are dishonest to employees, and more than 60 percent of Americans say it's common in corporate America to falsify records and engage in improper finances, but fewer than half of executives agreed with either of those statements.

Paul Fadil, associate University of North Florida business professor and director of the school's MBA program, said the survey results don't surprise him because job and income losses are a reality for many. …

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