Ethics at Work Index: 80.0
Spanish employees’ views of ethics at work have improved in some important ways compared to 2018. For example, employees are more likely than in the past to be aware of each of the four building blocks of an ethics programme considered in this survey. Those that have been aware of misconduct at work are more likely to report it and be satisfied with the outcome of it, while they are less likely than employees in some other countries to experience retaliation as a result.
However, the percentage of Spanish employees who are aware of misconduct and do not raise their concern is still relatively high and respondents are more likely than in 2018 to say that they have felt pressured to compromise their organisation’s standards of behaviour. The provision of the formal elements of an ethics programme, which, despite the improvements in the past three years, are still lower in Spain than in other countries, might help to address some of these issues. Looking ahead, automated machines or AI replacing humans in the workplace is the issue that Spanish employees are more likely to be concerned about.
- Spanish employees’ views about how frequently honesty is practised in their place of work have improved in the past three years, increasing from 79% in 2018 to 84% in 2021.
- The percentage of employees who have felt pressured to compromise their organisation’s standards of behaviour has increased in Spain compared to 2018 (15% vs 12%). Out of the 13 countries surveyed, Spanish employees are among the most likely to say so, alongside Portugal (21%), South Africa (16%) and the US (14%). The main source of pressure for Spanish employees is due to following their boss’s orders (39%), followed by time pressure/unrealistic deadlines (34%).
- Employees in Spain are less likely to say that they have been aware of misconduct at work compared to 2018 (23% vs 40%). This is the lowest level ever recorded in Spain. However, it is still among the highest levels recorded among all the countries surveyed, with South Africa (28%) and the US (20%).
- Only 49% of employees in Spain 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 is lower than in 2018 (53%) and among the lowest of all countries surveyed, alongside Switzerland (41%) and Portugal (46%).
- The main reasons why Spanish 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%).
- However, they are also among the least likely to experience retaliation after they raised concerns about misconduct (32%), alongside their Swiss colleagues (28%).
- Spanish 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 (73% vs 59%). They are among the most likely to say so, together with their colleagues in the US (75%).
The ethics programme
- Compared to 2018, employees in Spain are more likely to say that they are aware of each of the four building blocks of an ethics programme considered. The biggest increase has been recorded in relation to ethics training (51% vs 33% in 2018), which is at the highest level ever recorded in Spain.
- However, Spanish employees’ awareness of each of the four building blocks is still low compared to some other countries. For example, 53% of them say that they are aware of a means to report misconduct confidentially within their organisation, compared to 73% in the US and 75% in South Africa.
Embedding ethics through a supportive environment
- Employees in Spain have mixed views on their line manager’s commitment to ethics. For example, only 59% say that their line manager explains the importance of honesty and ethics in the work they do (65% global average), while 35% think that their line manager rewards employees who get good results even if they use practices that are ethically questionable (32% global average).
- 71% of employees in Spain say that their organisation acts responsibly in all its business dealings (76% global average) and 70% that it lives up to its stated policy of social responsibility (71% global average).
- 60% of Spanish employees say that issues of right and wrong are discussed in staff meetings (58% global average), 64% say that decisions about people are made fairly in their organisation (65% global average) and 74% say that people in their organisation know what is expected of them in terms of ethical behaviour (78% global average).
- Spanish employees are less likely than average to say that their organisation disciplines employees who violate its ethical standards (58% vs 63% global average).
Current and future issues
- 39% of employees in Spain say that, considering their organisation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, their opinion on how ethically their organisation behaves has improved. Only 9% say that it has worsened, while 52% 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 Spanish employees are more likely to be concerned about (59%), followed by the misuse of AI for unethical behaviour (57%).