Survey: CEO Candor On the (Steep) Decline

Last Updated May 6, 2008 3:20 PM EDT

  • The Find: Top U.S. CEOs issued 21 percent more confusing and misleading statements last year than they did in 2006 -- and 85 percent more than they did just five years ago.
The Takeaway: Rittenhouse Rankings Inc. compiles an annual CEO Candor benchmark survey of 100 Fortune 500 companies, and this year's results show those at the top of America's biggest companies are increasingly unable to give a straightforward explanation of what's going on at their companies:
The survey, which evaluates candor in annual shareholder letters, shows that confusing and misleading statements or "dangerous fog," increased 66 percent in the survey up from 39 percent five years ago. In contrast, statements that require simple clarification or add useless clutter or "benign fog," declined to 34 percent, down from 61 percent.
According to Rittenhouse, here are the worst and best U.S. performers:

LEAST CANDID:
  1. Humana
  2. ServiceMaster
  3. Boeing
  4. Estee Lauder
  5. News Corp.
  6. Student Loan
  7. Coca Cola
  8. Dow Jones
  9. ExxonMobil
  10. Merrill Lynch
MOST CANDID:
  1. Eaton
  2. Entergy
  3. Wells Fargo
  4. Novartis
  5. Target
  6. Toyota
  7. Williams Companies
  8. Sherwin-Williams
  9. Charles Schwab
  10. Loews
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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.

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