2011 National Ethics Report: Implications for Leaders

Last week the biennial National Ethics Report was released by the Ethics Resource Center.  To get your own (free) copy, go to www.ethics.org.

This thorough and enlightening report details the current trends and factors forming our ethical work culture.  There are some intriguing findings, particularly for leaders:

Key Findings

  • Misconduct witnessed by U.S. workers is now at historic lows (45% report observing some form of ethical misconduct), while reporting of misconduct is now at near record highs (65%).

  • Retaliation against employee whistleblowers rose sharply to 22% (compared with 15% in ’09 and 12% in ’07).  When you tie this to the above-mentioned increase in reporting, there are clear implications for leaders and their organizations.

  • The percentage of employees who perceived pressure to compromise standards in order to do their jobs climbed five points from 2009 to 13 percent.

  • Two influences stood out in the unusual shift in trends: the economy and the unique experiences of those actively using social networking at work.

    • 34% say management watches more closely

    • 34% also have a negative view of their supervisor’s ethics (highest in 11 years)

    • 42% report there is a raised awareness about ethics in their organization

    • 30% say that offenders are laying-low until the economy improves

    • 50% of active social networkers report keeping a copy of a confidential document for their next job

    • 50% of active social networkers upload personal pictures on company time using company networks/servers

    • 46% of active social networkers copy software for use on a personal computer

    • 32% of active social networkers feel more pressure to compromise ethical standards

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