Introducing the ECI’s 2018 Global Business Ethics Survey
Publish date: 28 September 2018
Issue Number: 7
Diary: CompliNEWS Ethics
‘Across business, leaders have the responsibility to develop and support high quality ethics programs to help reduce risk and drive organizational success.’ Ellen Martin, Vice President, Ethics and Business Conduct, Boeing Company.
The Ethics and Compliance Initiative (ECI) is a best practice community of organisations that are committed to creating and sustaining high quality ethics and compliance programmes.
ECI is one of the leading providers of independent research about workplace integrity, ethical standards, and compliance processes and practices in public and private institutions, and its research includes the Global Business Ethics Survey® (GBES) of workplaces in leading world economies, including South Africa. Released four times per year, GBES is the world’s most comprehensive, cross-cultural survey of workplace behaviour.
What the reports are showing decisively is that the single biggest influence on employee conduct is culture. In 2017 some 40% of employees in the workplace noted a weak-to-weakening ethical culture. Many firms reported having ethics policies in place. However the best set of policies has little or no impact when there is an unethical organisational culture in evidence. The benefits of having an ethical culture are highlighted in a number of publications including the Harvard Business Review’s publication ‘Creating a culture of quality’ which looks at the question of embedding quality deep into a company’s culture and asks how organisations benefit as a result. One can also look at King IV specifically in Part 5.1 around leadership and ethics and corporate citizenship (Principle 2). Section 75 (1) (a) of the Companies Act looks at prescribed officers’ responsibilities and the common law duties of executives are also explored in the Act.
Organisations should be, as a matter of priority, adopting ethics action plans where there is a need for managers and employees to be more committed to ethical values and compliance . Performance goals should be established and a statement of values created. Integrity is essential as performance without integrity is unacceptable. Organisations must look at continually raising the bar when it comes to governance. The governing body should delegate to management the responsibility for implementation and execution of all relevant codes of conduct and/or ethics policies.
Possible solutions for use by organisations to increase an understanding and awareness of the importance of ethical behaviour include creating an ethics task team, or designating an employee as an ethics ‘action hero’ in the business as well as initiating company-wide ethics awareness training.
Food for thought.