Creating a supportive environment for ethical behaviour is essential to applying business ethics in practice and closing the ‘say-do gap’ between an organisation’s formal commitments and what happens in reality.

A supportive environment for ethics means that every aspect of the organisation’s strategy and every corporate policy needs to be in line with ethical commitments, from how the board operates, to how pay is determined.

Why supporting ethics matters

 

The impact of providing a work environment which is supportive of ethics

The IBE’s 2018 European Ethics at Work survey shows that providing a work environment that is perceived as supportive to ethics is linked to:

  • More positive perceptions of how frequently honesty is practised at work. Employees in the most supportive organisations are more likely to say that honesty is practised always or frequently (91%) than those in organisations that are unsupportive (53%).
  • Fewer people being aware of instances of misconduct. Employees in the most supportive organisations are less likely to say that they have been aware of unethical behaviour (21%) than employees in unsupportive organisations, where this figure rises to 60%.
  • Less pressure to compromise ethics. Employees in the most supportive organisations are more likely to say that they have not felt pressured to compromise their organisation’s ethical standards (87% compared to 59% among employees in unsupportive organisations).
  • Increased willingness to speak up about misconduct. Employees in the most supportive organisations are more likely to have spoken up about their concerns (70%) than those in unsupportive organisations (47%). 90% of those who reported misconduct in the most supportive organisations are satisfied with the outcome of speaking up, whilst this figure decreases to only 15% among employees in organisations that are perceived as unsupportive.

There are many elements to a supportive ethical culture. Some are explored here:

Corporate Governance
Corporate Governance

A supportive environment begins at the very top, with ethics at the heart of the organisation’s gove ...

Leadership
Leadership

Senior leadership ‘set the tone’ by referring to the values and expectations of the company when the ...

Speak Up mechanisms
Speak Up mechanisms

The freedom to raise concerns is a core component of a supportive ethical business culture where emp ...

Decision-making
Decision-making

Sometimes it can be difficult to make the right decision, especially if there are conflicting priori ...

Performance management
Performance management

Performance management is central to embedding ethical values into business practice. While attenti ...