CEOs set ethics priorities; ordinary citizens define ethics broadly
THE FIRST RESEARCH STUDY CONDUCTED BY the prestigious Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics surveyed CEOs of large corporations to determine the most important corporate ethics issues facing the business community. According to the CEOs, the five most important ethics issues, in order of priority, are: (1) regaining the public trust, (2) effective company management in the context of today's investor expectations, (3) ensuring the integrity of financial reporting, (4) fairness of executive compensation, and (5) ethical role-modeling of senior management.
The study also revealed that 81% of CEOs believe that standards for corporate ethics have risen in the wake of recent controversies, and 74% indicated their companies have made changes in how ethics issues are handled or reported within the last two years. Changes cited most often include enhanced internal reporting and communications (33%), establishment of ethics hotlines (17%), improved compliance procedures (12%), and greater oversight by the board (10%). Concerning their specific top-priority plans, the majority of CEOs (57%) cited establishing a framework for business decision making that integrates ethics. Second, they plan to encourage pushback and establish a culture for addressing potential bad news early and proactively (35%).
A second study involved focus groups of ordinary citizens and interviews of business leaders. Conducted by researchers Public Agenda in collaboration with the Kettering Foundation, it provided an interesting comparison of how ordinary citizens and business executives view issues of business ethics.Written by Steve Farkes, Ann Duffett, and Jean Johnson, A Few Bad Apples? An Exploratory Look at What Typical Americans Think About Business Ethics Today notes that the two groups agree on some issues but disagree on others--understandable considering that the ordinary citizens are consumers and employees whereas the business leaders function as managers and decision makers.
Both groups agreed that a general decline in ethics...
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