U.S. Workers, Investors Largely Unaware of Sarbanes-Oxley Act

Eighty percent of U.S. workers and 76 percent of employed investors have never heard of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, according to a Hudson survey measuring its impact in the workplace. As the first compliance deadline approaches in December, only nine percent of workers say they have been asked to do something differently in their jobs as a result of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Among working investors, defined as owning at least $5,000 in stocks, bonds and mutual funds, only seven percent indicated that Sarbanes-Oxley had increased their confidence as an investor. Likewise among this group, only seven percent said it had increased their confidence in the leadership of public companies. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was enacted to restore investor confidence in public company accounting and leadership by increasing transparency and requiring CEOs and CFOs to attest to the soundness of their companies’ internal controls.

“Clearly, U.S. workers and individual investors are not well informed about the Act or its intended benefits,” said Dee Lonn, executive vice president of Hudson Financial Solutions. “Despite massive investments of corporate resources, public relations is lagging and the workplace impact has not extended much beyond those directly responsible for achieving compliance.” Companies are spending an average of $3 million in the first year to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, according to Financial Executives International.

As expected, the Act’s influence has been much greater in accounting and finance circles, with 25 percent of accounting and finance workers reporting that they have been asked to do something differently in their jobs as a result of Sarbanes-Oxley and 22 percent saying the Act has created more work for them personally. Senior managers are also feeling the impact, with 18 percent reporting they have been asked to do something differently and 13 percent saying it has created more work for them.

The Hudson survey was based upon telephone interviews with 2,152 workers and 1,880 investors conducted between November 5 and 14, 2004. The interviews were conducted by Rasmussen Reports, an independent public opinion research firm based in New Jersey. Hudson, one of the world’s leading professional staffing, outsourcing and human capital solution providers, also publishes the Hudson Employment IndexSM, a monthly measure of the U.S. workforce’s confidence in the employment market. Next month’s Hudson Employment Index SM will be released on December 3, 2004.

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