Wanted: More Retirement Plan Oversight

January 28, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Tighter government regulations, and executives who put workers' interests ahead of their own, will go far to prevent further Enron debacles, according responents in a survey on corporate business ethics.

Almost 75% of the sample said that more retirement plan oversight would safeguard against such a financial disaster, while 79% said executives needed to think of their employees needs first, according to a Bureau of National Affairs report.

Tough on Ethics

Further, respondents were tough on the state of general corporate ethics in the US, according to the poll conducted by Harris Interactive Inc. and BusinessWeek. A scant 3% rated boardroom ethics as excellent.

The findings also show that:

  • about one in three respondents rated corporate ethics as good
  • fair came to mind for 42%
  • poor was the word used by 22%

The latest survey poll also found that twice as many Americans said they have very little confidence in the executives of major companies as they did in an earlier poll, 24% in 2002 compared with 13% in 1999.

Two thirds said they believe US companies are excellent or pretty good at making good products and competing in a global economy, but 73 % do not believe that businesses do a good job at being honest with consumers and employees.

Watchdog Ratings

Those surveyed gave moderate support to government agencies and accountants to serve as “watchdogs” over big companies-60 % said they have some confidence in the government and 58% said they would back accountants.

Nearly half, however, said they do not trust lawyers to be watchdogs, according to the survey. Forty-three percent reported some confidence in lawyers, but 47% reported hardly any confidence at all.

The survey involved 886 adults between January 16 and January 21.