Top businesses told to ‘up their game’ over lack of ethical codes and staff protection

IBE news
15 May 2023

Tags: Speak Up, Code of Ethics

  • New research shows just half of companies across the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 have public codes of ethics, with less than two-thirds of those judged to be good, according to UK’s leading business ethics experts.
  • Only half of FTSE 100 companies have written commitments to protect staff raising concerns over ethical behaviour and business practice.
  • Businesses warned urgent improvements are needed.

Leading businesses have been warned they must improve after new research from the Institute of Business Ethics found that just one in two (54 percent) companies across the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 have publicly accessible codes of ethics – with the Institute classing less than two-thirds (57 percent) of available codes as ‘good.’

Just 40 percent of companies in the FTSE 250 have codes of ethics, compared to 90 percent of those in the FTSE 100. However, the Institute also found that just half of FTSE 100 businesses have written assurances staff will not face retaliation if they report concerns about ethical behaviour and practice.

Codes of ethics reviewed and updated within the last three years were more likely to be judged as ‘good’ by the Institute – with 49 percent of those from FTSE 100 companies and half of the codes published by FTSE 250 businesses updated since 2020.

The number of FTSE 100 companies with a public code of ethics improved from 81 in 2021 to 90 this year, with the number of codes classed as a good standard rising from 46 to 57.

The Institute has warned leading companies must improve in publishing codes of ethics and ensuring they have protections in place for staff wishing to report concerns.

Dr Ian Peters MBE, Director of the Institute of Business Ethics, said:

“What this research shows is the biggest firms get the importance of a code of ethics, but there is substantial room for improvement. Although the number and quality of codes among FTSE 100 companies is improving, too many fail to include protections for staff who feel they need to raise concerns. Worryingly, there are several FTSE 250 organisations, which are among the country’s biggest businesses, without a publicly available code of ethics.

“A code of ethics should be the cornerstone for any organisation, ensuring it’s doing the right thing for the right reasons. Any business without a code available for public scrutiny needs to up its game or risk the loyalty and support of both staff and customers.”

Dr Ian Peters MBE is available for an interview.

Media contacts:

Ed Sawyer and Chris Rogers, iNHouse Communications
(T) 020 7240 7338
Out of Hours contact: Chris Rogers, 07720 054189

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