Social networking presents serious concern to business owners

According to findings from the third annual Deloitte LLP Ethics & Workplace survey, 58 percent of executives agree that the reputational risk of social networking should be a boardroom issue. However, only 15 percent of the respondents say that it is being discussed at this level.

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"Online social networking presents a range of challenges and opportunities for most organizations," said Sharon Allen, chairman of Deloitte LLP. "Activity in these online communities can have an extraordinary and far reaching impact. That's why it is important that the potential reputational risks associated with sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube become an agenda item in today's boardrooms."

The majority (65 percent) of those executives who agree that the reputational risks of social networking should be a boardroom issue also say that they use social networking to build their company's brand. Only 27 percent of executives say that they regularly discuss how to leverage these sites while at the same time mitigating the risks involved.

Allen continued, "Though social networks can be used to build business, they can also prove to be detrimental to brands. Setting usage guidelines as well as establishing a values-based ethical culture are among the steps leadership can take to encourage employees to make good decisions online."

The complete results of the 2009 Ethics & Workplace survey reflect opinions of employees and business executives on questions on ethics, work-life balance, reputational risk and the prevalence of boardroom participation as it relates to increased employee social networking.

Methodology

Opinion Research conducted a telephone survey on behalf of Deloitte LLP among a national probability sample of 2,008 employed adults comprising 1,000 men and 1,008 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. Interviewing for these CARAVANĀ® Surveys was completed during the period April 9-13 and 16-19, 2009. Sampling error is +/- 2.5 percent.

Opinion Research also conducted an online survey of 500 business executives. The sample for the study came from a panel of executives across the United States, including company owners, directors, CEO's, controllers, EVPs, CIOs, VPs and board members. Invitations to participate in the study were sent beginning on April 10, 2009 and data collection continued through April 17, 2009.


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