Corporate Ethics Policies and Programmes: 2013 UK and Continental Europe survey

Publication type: Survey
11 December 2013

Tags: Communication & Engagement, Ethics Programme issues, Code of Ethics , Ethical Values, Training, Supportive Environment, Treatment of Employees

This triennial survey provides an overview of how ethics is embedded within large organisations that operate in the UK and Continental Europe.

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Key findings

  • One of the most notable findings is the evidence of increased investment into ethics programmes over the last 3 years by corporate management - Seven out of ten respondents said this compared to five out ten in 2010
  • 87% of UK respondents state that a member of the board of directors takes ultimate responsibility for the ethics programme
  • Nearly two thirds of respondent companies state that ethics plays a part in their company’s recruitment processes (63% up from only 38% in 2010)
  • Two thirds include ethics in some way in staff appraisals
  • Three quarters say that a breach of their company’s code of ethics has led to a disciplinary procedure during the last 3 years
  • The number of UK companies monitoring the effectiveness of their ethics programmes has increased to 79%
  • Despite the increased investment in ethics programmes, a fifth of companies seem to offer training only once to general employees and managers, and only a third routinely train staff and managers once a year and (24%) of FTSE 350 respondents offer ethics training to the board only once


  • How do organisations make sure that employees share their core values and feel empowered to do the right thing?
  • How can ethics become an integral part of doing business?

This triennial survey, now in its seventh edition, provides a picture of how ethics is embedded within large organisations that operate in the UK and Continental Europe.

When the IBE conducted this survey for the first time in 1995, much emphasis was placed on the code of ethics. Organisations now look at ethics through a more sophisticated lens and it has become evident that, whilst a code is necessary, it is not sufficient to ensure that core values are embedded throughout business practice.

This survey has been written for those who wish to gain a better understanding of how an ethics programme can be managed effectively. People across different business functions can benefit from its findings – senior executives, managers, other employees or external stakeholders who are seeking to gain an insight into how companies embed ethics wherever they operate.

For companies that are starting out, this survey provides an overview of the different elements of an ethics programme. It enables organisations with more established ethics programmes to observe how they compare with typical practice and gain an idea of where it can be improved and enhanced.