Two new polls suggest that far from improving, the credibility of American business leaders continues to decline. A Harris poll finds that business leaders are among the least trustworthy sources of information in America, with only 43 percent saying they generally trust what business leaders say, while a Gallup poll finds an even smaller number—just 25 percent—credit business executives with either high or very high honesty and ethical standards.
In the Harris survey, business executives rank far behind such credible sources of information as clergymen or priests (90 percent), teachers (88 percent), doctors (84 percent), police officers (78 percent), Professors (77 percent), scientists and (76 percent). In the Gallup poll, firefighters (90 percent), nurses (84 percent), the military (81 percent), policemen and pharmacists (68 percent) and medical doctors (66 percent) all ranked well ahead of business executives.
The only good news, for business leaders facing labor difficulties, is that union leaders ranked below them. In the Harris survey, only 37 percent said they trusted organized labor leaders—the lowest score in the survey, while in the Gallup poll, only 17 percent said union leaders had either high or very high ethical standards.
Other business figures scored poorly in the Gallup poll, with car salesman trusted by just 8 percent, advertising practitioners by 11 percent (respondents were not asked their feelings about PR people), and insurance salesmen by just 13 percent.
Journalists scored 29 percent in the Gallup survey—4 percent higher than business execs—and 49 percent in the Harris poll, where they were one of just four groups that recorded an improved score. Trust of journalists improved by 6 percent, while trust of business leaders declined by the same amount.