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Ethics rank low among CEOs

The codes of ethics come in glossy brochures; the companies' environmental and social responsibilities get lofty treatment in the annual report. But when push comes to shove, do chief executives put social ethics at the top of their agenda? No, says a recent Conference Board survey of 656 CEOs worldwide.

Instead, company heads list more traditional issues as their top challenges for the coming year, including keeping prices competitive and customers loyal.

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"Environment, health, and safety" issues only ranked 13th out of 16 top marketplace challenges for CEOs listed below:

Marketplace issues Percent of CEOs

Downward pressure on your prices 48%

Changes in type/level of competition 43

Industry consolidation 41

Changing technology 25

Increasing innovation 24

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Shortages of key skills 23

Changes in supply/distribution systems 22

Access to/cost of capital 17

Regulatory issues (labor, market access, etc.) 15

Impact of the Internet 15

Instability in emerging markets 15

Pressure from institutional investors 8

Environment, health, and safety issues 7

Currency issues 5

Inadequate education systems 3

Effects of corruption 1

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