In January, the Ethics Resource Center (ERC) released its biennial National Business Ethics Survey
(NBES), widely recognized as a definitive measure of workplace ethics. A number of the key findings were positive. For instance, the survey found that 45% of respondents had witnessed workplace misconduct, a drop from 49% in 2009. Set against the degree of misconduct witnessed was a promising increase in its reporting; a record high of two-thirds of respondents had reported the misconduct of their peers. Nevertheless, the NBES had a number of key findings that sound the ethical alarm. The challenging economic times, among other factors, are believed to have contributed to an uptick to 13% of employees who perceived pressure to compromise their ethical standards to get the job done. Of equal concern, 22% of employees who reported bad behavior said they experienced some form of retaliation, a 10% spike over the prior survey’s results. Both of these statistics underscore a flawed and failing ethical culture, which we consistently highlight as an organization’s insurance policy against workplace misconduct. Indeed, the ERC survey found that the number of companies with perceived weak ethical cultures climbed to near record levels, with 42% of companies identified for their weak or “weak leaning” ethical culture. For our thoughts on practical ways organizations can mitigate the risk of misconduct and establish stronger corporate cultures driven by and rooted in integrity, click here.