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Poll reveals ethics deficit

By The Independent Team

Davos World Economic Forum 2010

In order to develop a deeper understanding of the nuances of public opinion on the topic of values the World Economic Forum carried out a unique new poll over Facebook.

Below are the most salient findings from each question.

Question 1: Do you believe that universal values exist?

Yes

No

Not sure

Only 54% of respondents believe that universal values exist and this belief is mixed across the countries evaluated, with Mexico (72%) leading the list of countries that believe in universal values, followed by Germany (65%), India (64%), Indonesia (61%) and South Africa (58%). Stronger resistance to this concept emerges in France (37%).

Question 2: From where do you primarily derive most of your personal values?

Education / family

Professional experience

Religion / faith

Popular culture

Education and family lead as sources of personal and professional values globally, with 62% of all respondents listing these as their primary sources of values. Religion and faith are most likely to drive values in the United States, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Popular culture appears to play only a minor role as a driver of values. Professional experience is a significant driver of values for only 11% of all respondents.

Question 3: Which of these stakeholders should be more values-driven to foster a better world?

Small- and medium-sized local businesses

Large, global, multinational corporations

Domestic politics in your country

Institutions of global governance

Most respondents believe that businesses (small and large) should be more values-driven; this pattern applies across age and gender. .

Question 4: Do you think these stakeholders currently apply a values-driven approach in their sectors?

Small- and medium-sized local businesses

Large, global, multinational corporations

Domestic politics in your country

Institutions of global governance

The purpose of Question 3 was to understand which stakeholders people feel should be more values-driven. Question 4 seeks to understand public opinion on which stakeholders are perceived to currently apply a values-driven approach.

Question 5: What is the value that you consider the most important in your private and professional life?

The impact of actions on the well-being of others

Preserving the environment

Respecting others’ rights, dignity, views

Honesty, integrity and transparency

Honesty, integrity and transparency are the values that are most important to both private and professional life according to 51% of all respondents. This emphasis on honesty, integrity and transparency applies across all 10 countries.

Question 6: What is the value that you consider most important in the global political and economic system?

The impact of actions on the well-being of others

Preserving the environment

Respecting others’ rights, dignity, views

Honesty, integrity and transparency

Honesty, integrity and transparency are also considered central to the global political and economic system across the 10 countries surveyed.

Question 7: Do you think people apply the same values in their private lives as in their professional lives?

Yes

No

Not sure

The vast majority of respondents”over 60%” believe that people do not apply the same values in their private and professional lives. Few men (25%) or women (21%) believe that consistent values are applied across personal and professional arenas.

Question 8: In your opinion, is the current global economic crisis also a crisis of ethics and values?

Yes

No

Not sure

The majority of respondents”over two-thirds”believe the global economic crisis is also a crisis of ethics and values. This number is significantly higher among older participants.

Question 9: In your opinion, are businesses primarily accountable to:

Their shareholders

Their employees

Their clients and customers

All equally

Of all respondents, 46% believe that businesses are primarily accountable to all stakeholders equally (their shareholders, employees and clients and customers). All countries show a strong inclination towards business accountability to all stakeholders equally and this pattern is consistent across age groups.

Question 10: Which of these criteria do you most consider when you are buying a product?

Its environmental impact

Its impact on human well-being during production

The quality and price

The ethical values of the producer

Quality and price of a product play a major role in purchasing across the globe, with 82% of all respondents choosing this as their most important criteria when buying a product. The ethical values of the producer are of prime importance to only 8% of respondents, impact on human well-being during production is important to 5% of the respondents and environmental impact rates highest with only 5% of the respondents.

Conclusion

In the wake of the economic crisis, this survey reveals a perceived deficit of values in the economy and a need to fundamentally rethink the development of the morals and ethical norms that underpin our global economic system.

 

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