Survey says: Play fair

Americans give business high marks for making money - but not for upholding ethical standards.

That's the finding of a recent poll conducted for Shell Oil Co. by Peter D. Hart Research Associates.

Slightly more than half of nearly 1,300 adults surveyed think companies provide a good return to investors and offer quality products and services.

But bigger majorities rated businesses only "fair" or "poor" at sharing profits with employees (73 percent), protecting the environment (70 percent), having ethical business practices (63 percent), or contributing to the local community (59 percent).

Ethics are particularly important to Americans, the survey suggests. Although 40 percent say providing quality products and services is the most important value for businesses to uphold, almost the same percentage (39 percent) say it's important for companies to uphold ethical business practices.

Perceptions differ by race and gender. More men than women think businesses are doing a good job upholding ethical values.

But African-Americans and Hispanics are much less likely to give businesses an excellent or good rating for contributing to the local community.

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