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Corporate governance - is your CEO concerned?

As a CFO you might be forgiven for thinking the finance world has become obsessed with corporate governance. The excessive coverage given to corporate scandals means the spotlights, rightly or wrongly, have been trained on the finance function. So it is surprising to learn that a mere 19% of global business leaders think that fresh corporate governance legislation will lead to an improved code of ethical behaviour.

These results, drawn from a survey of CEOs by Corporate Reputation Watch, also show that 50% of CEOs place product and service problems on a par with unethical corporate behaviour as the most tangible threats to corporate reputation.

Changing practices within corporates, however, reveal that CEOs are taking notice of the stricter regulatory environment. Three-quarters of CEOs are looking to address internal controls, while 64% are reviewing auditor relationships with 55% of respondents revising codes of conduct.

"Business leaders have come under fire from all quarters and are now held to higher standards of ethics, business principles and accountability," says Andrew Laurence, chairman EMEA of Hill & Knowlton, the communications consultant. "In a less trusting market, our survey finds that with company's performance now inextricably linked to the reputation of the organisation and its management, CEOs are taking greater personal responsibility to protect and enhance corporate image."