Ethics at Work Index: 79.2
Compared to 2018, employees’ views of ethics at work in France have improved in many respects. They are more likely to think that honesty is practised in the workplace, they are less likely to be aware of misconduct and to feel pressured to compromise their organisation’s standards of behaviour.
However, there are several issues that still need addressing. Although more common than in the past, the provision of the elements of an ethics programme is still less common than in other countries and employees have mixed views on their line manager’s commitment to ethics, as well as on the ability of their organisation of engaging effectively with internal and external stakeholders. French employees are also the most likely to experience retaliation after raising concerns about ethics. Looking ahead, automated machines or AI replacing humans in the workplace is the issue that French employees are more likely to be concerned about.
- French employees are the most lenient towards the ethically questionable practices outlined in Q1, as they are more likely than average to find each of the eight workplace actions acceptable.
- French employees’ views about how frequently honesty is practised in their place of work has improved in the past three years, increasing from 71% in 2018 to 89% in 2021. Among the countries surveyed, French and German employees are among the most likely to say that honesty is practised always or frequently in their organisation (89%), together with their Swiss colleagues (91%).
- The percentage of employees who have felt pressured to compromise their organisation’s standards of behaviour has decreased substantially in France compared to 2018 (9% vs 20%). This is the lowest level ever recorded in this country. Out of the 13 countries surveyed, France is one of the four where less than 10% of employees report this type of pressure. The main source of pressure for French employees was due to following their boss’s orders (34%), followed by time pressure/unrealistic deadlines (28%).
- Employees in France are notably less likely to say that they have been aware of misconduct at work compared to 2018 (16% vs 34%), which is the biggest drop recorded among all the countries surveyed and the lowest level ever recorded in France.
- Only 52% of employees in France that have been aware of misconduct at work have spoken up about it with management, another appropriate person, or through any other mechanism. This figure has not changed compared to 2018.
- The main reasons why French employees do not raise their concerns are that they did not believe that corrective action would be taken (33%) and that they felt it might jeopardise their job (32%).
- They are also among the most likely to experience retaliation after they raised concerns about misconduct (60%), alongside their Australian and Irish colleagues (53% and 52% respectively).
- However, French employees who have spoken up about the misconduct they have been aware of are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome compared to 2018 (62% vs 46%).
The ethics programme
- Employees in France are among the least likely to say that they are aware of each of the four building blocks of an ethics programme considered. Less than half of French respondents are aware of a means of reporting misconduct confidentially, of an information helpline for ethics and of ethics training being offered by their organisation.
- However, they are more likely to be aware of each of the four building blocks of an ethics programme compared to 2018. The biggest increase has been recorded in relation to ethics training (37% vs 26% in 2018), which is at the highest level ever recorded in France.
Embedding ethics through a supportive environment
- Employees in France have mixed views on their line manager’s commitment to ethics. For example, only 58% say that their line manager explains the importance of honesty and ethics in the work they do, while 30% think that their line manager rewards employees who get good results even if they use practices that are ethically questionable.
- Of all countries surveyed, employees in France are among the least likely to say that their organisation acts responsibly in all its business dealings (67%) and that it lives up to its stated policy of social responsibility (63%).
- They are also likely to have mixed views about how their organisation engages with employees on ethics. They are among the least likely to say that people in their organisation know what is expected of them in terms of ethical behaviour (69%), that issues of right and wrong are discussed in staff meetings (52%) and that in their organisation decisions about people are made fairly (58%).
- 60% of French employees say that their organisation disciplines employees who violate its ethical standards. The global average is 63%.
Current and future issues
- 30% of employees in France say that, considering their organisation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, their opinion on how ethically their organisation behaves has improved. Only 8% say that it has worsened, while 59% say that it has stayed the same.
- With regards to the future of the workplace, automated machines or AI replacing humans in the workplace is the issue that French employees are more likely to be concerned about (40%), followed by the loss of interpersonal interactions due to the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown (39%).