Internal Auditor, Dec, 2005 by A. Millage
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DESPITE AN INCREASE IN the number of formal ethics programs in the workplace, ethical misbehavior is on the rise. According to a recent survey by the Ethics Resource Center (ERC), more than half of 3,000 U.S. workers polled have observed at least one type of ethical misconduct in the past year. The "2005 National Business Ethics Survey" (NBES) sought workers' opinions on workplace ethics trends, the implementation and impact of formal programs, the ethical culture of organizations, and factors that pose risks of misconduct. The ERC has conducted four such surveys in the past 11 years. This year's findings reveal that although ethics and compliance programs make a difference, their impact is related to the culture in which they are situated. Related Results
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"[Organizations] have invested significant resources in ethics and compliance programs, but we are not seeing much change in the direct impact these programs are having," said Patricia Harned, president of the ERC, in a release. "Organizations need to evaluate what will work most effectively, including a closer look at the role workplace culture plays." Seventy percent of employees from organizations with a weak ethical culture reported observing at least one type of ethical wrongdoing, whereas only 34 percent of employees from organizations with a strong ethical culture said they have witnessed misconduct. The NBES defines misconduct as any behavior that violates the organization's ethics standards or the law. Abusive or intimidating behavior toward employees (21 percent) and lying to employees, customers, vendors, or the public (19 percent) were the two most common types of misconduct...