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CEOs are among society’s most powerful people but not the most respected


CEOs are among society’s most powerful people but not the most respected


Half of Australian consumers see CEOs as among society’s most powerful people, but less than 10% view them as the most respected, according to a new corporate perception indicator study.


The global corporate reputation study by CNBC and communications firm Burston-Marsteller included a survey of 1000 Australian consumers and 75 C-suite executives.

When asked to rank society’s most respected people, more than a quarter (27%) of local respondents named professional athletes. Only 8% named CEOs.

This is despite nearly half (49%) of consumers identifying CEOs as among the most powerful people in society.

More Australian respondents than those globally believed CEO salaries were high, with 53% of Australians and 38% of the world believing CEOs make more money than professional athletes, entertainers and heads of state.

79% believe the gap is growing between corporate CEO salaries and those of the average worker.

Nearly one-quarter (23%) of Australians nominated police and firefighters to be society’s highest paid workers, followed by doctors (20%) and teachers (16%).

Some of the study’s other Australia-specific findings include:

  • Industries: The top three industries that consumers trust are food and agriculture (89%), hospitality (86%) and technology (86%),
  • corporate nationalism: More than two thirds of Australians said they dislike Chinese companies (65%) and more than half dislike American companies (52%). 67% of C-suite executives and 44% of customers had favourable attitudes towards European companies,
  • social responsibility: 25% of Australian C-suite executives said corporations were becoming less socially responsible. 21% named the environment as the most important issue for corporates,
  • healthcare: Most Australians believed responsibility for healthcare lay with government (61%), rather than individuals (19%) or corporations (9%), and
  • retirement: 63% of Australian executives believe corporations should be obligated to provide employees with retirement benefits. Australia was country within Asia least supportive of this idea (75% overall).


Michelle Herbison

Assistant editor, Marketing Magazine.

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