Ethics at Work Index: 76.6
Compared to 2018, employees in Portugal are more likely to be aware of each of the four building blocks of an ethics programme considered. This might indicate that, in the past three years, Portuguese organisations have invested in their approach to ethics. However, the percentage of employees who are not aware of the four main building blocks of an ethics programme is still relatively high, particularly compared to some other countries.
Furthermore, there are several issues that appear to be in need of addressing. Portuguese employees are the most likely to say that they have felt pressured to compromise their organisation’s standards of behaviour and among the most likely to say that they have been aware of misconduct at work. Employees also have mixed views on some of the indicators about their line manager’s commitment to ethics, as well as on the ability of their organisation of engaging effectively with internal and external stakeholders. Looking ahead, issues around the misuse of AI and discrimination or bias in the workplace are the issues that concern them the most.
- Portuguese employees are the strictest towards the ethically questionable practices outlined in Q1, as they are less likely than average to find each of the eight workplace actions acceptable.
- In 2021, 84% of employees in Portugal say that honesty is practised always or frequently in their organisation, compared to 85% in 2018.
- Of all countries surveyed, Portuguese employees are the most likely to say that they have felt pressured to compromise their organisation’s standards of behaviour. 21% of them say so, compared to a global average of 11%. The main sources of pressure in Portugal are following the boss’s orders and time pressures/unrealistic deadlines (both at 39%).
- Once again, abuse of authority is the type of misconduct that Portuguese employees are most likely to have been aware of (40% of those aware of misconduct). In particular, employees aged 55+ are more likely than their colleagues aged 18-34 to say so (65% vs 28%), and employees in the public sector are more likely to say so compared to those in the private sector (54% vs 34%).
- Portuguese employees are among the most likely to say that they have been aware of misconduct at work (20%). However, this percentage has dropped significantly compared to the 35% recorded in 2018.
- Portugal is towards the bottom of the list in terms of employees’ willingness to speak up when they become aware of misconduct. Only 46% of Portuguese employees who have been aware of misconduct say that they raised their concerns about it, compared to a global average of 57%.
- In Portugal, men are more likely to speak up about misconduct they have been aware of compared to women (57% vs 35%).
- The main reasons why Portuguese employees have not raised their concerns are that they did not believe that corrective action would be taken (47%) and that they felt they might jeopardise their job (31%).
- Portuguese employees that have raised their concerns about misconduct are significantly less likely than average to say that they are satisfied with the outcome after speaking up, only 45% say so, compared to a global average of 62%.
- Furthermore, 42% of those who raised concerns about misconduct they have been aware of also report experiencing retaliation for doing so. Younger employees (aged 18–35) are more likely than their older colleagues to say that they experienced retaliation after speaking up (55%). Employees in the public sector are more likely than those in the private sector to say so (53%).
The ethics programme
- Compared to 2018, Portuguese employees are more likely to be aware of each of the four building blocks of an ethics programme considered. The biggest improvement was recorded in the awareness of a means of reporting misconduct confidentially, which increased from 35% in 2018 to 43% in 2021.
- However, the percentage of Portuguese employees who are aware of each of these four building blocks is still relatively low. Less than half of respondents (43%) say that they are aware of a means of reporting misconduct confidentially or of an information helpline on ethics offered by their organisation, and only 50% say that they are aware of ethics training.
- Written standards of ethical business conduct are more common, as 62% of Portuguese employees are aware of them being offered in their organisation. However, this is lower than the global average (67%).
Embedding ethics through a supportive environment
- Employees in Portugal have mixed views on their line manager’s commitment to ethics. For example, they are significantly less likely than average to say that their line manager sets a good example of ethical business behaviour (63% vs 71% global average). 30% of them also think that their line manager rewards employees who get good results even if they use practices that are ethically questionable.
- Employees in Portugal are less likely than average to say that their organisation acts responsibly in all its business dealings (69% vs 76% global average) and that it lives up to its stated policy of social responsibility (67% vs 71% global average).
- They are also likely to have mixed views about how their organisation engages with employees on ethics. They are less likely than average to say that people in their organisation know what is expected of them in terms of ethical behaviour (75% vs 78% global average), that issues of right and wrong are discussed in staff meetings (53% vs 58% global average) and that in their organisation decisions about people are made fairly (53% vs 65% global average).
- Finally, they are significantly less likely than average to say that their organisation disciplines employees who violate its standards of behaviour (56% vs 63% global average).
Current and future issues
- 35% of employees in Portugal say that, considering their organisation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, their opinion on how ethically their organisation behaves has improved. Only 11% say that it has worsened, while 53% say that it has stayed the same.
- With regards to the future of the workplace, misuse of AI for unethical behaviour and discrimination or bias in the workplace are the two issues that Portuguese employees are more likely to be concerned about (both at 64%, compared to a global average of 41% for both).