A new Harris Poll indicates that half of this nation's population sees the reputation of the nation's corporate leaders as "bad." In fact, only 25 percent of Americans view corporate leaders in all industries as having good reputations, and 26 percent said that perceptions about CEOs were neutral, a news release about the study said.
An online survey of approximately 23,600 U.S. participants, conducted between Nov. 29 and Dec. 16, revealed that Americans think the top qualities of the nation's corporate chiefs should be trustworthiness, solid ethics and accountability. Participants thought it was less important for CEOs to be curious, bold and visible.
"When an astounding half of the country thinks CEOs and business leaders have bad reputations, that's a major issue," Harris Poll Vice President of Reputation Management and Public Affairs Wendy Salomon said in the release. "Consumers first and foremost look for human decency traits — trust, accountability, ethics, competency, respect. The public isn't looking for a cowboy CEO. It's not about brazen, visible risk-takers. They seek a more measured individual in the leadership seat."
Other findings from poll and follow-up include:
"U.S. consumers are struggling with what to make of our political climate and where Corporate America should fit in," Salomon said in the release. "Americans' polarized views of whether or not companies should engage on politically charged issues makes this uncharted territory. "It's an exceptionally tricky area for CEOs and other business leaders to navigate. We know that companies that have taken very public stands for their beliefs are reputationally rewarded by consumers of similar conservative or liberal views, but there is also clear risk among those who feel otherwise."
The February poll found that Republicans tend to see conservative and politically vocal companies like Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby significantly more favorably than Democrats do, while Democrats see Target's reputation more positively.