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Ethics, trust and reputation stats from 2011

The UK Institute of Business Ethics has summarised various 2011 ethics research stats from a variety of sources in a new download. You can find it here.

Here’s a few highlights below I thought were interesting: (sources and methodologies in the link above)

– Nearly six in ten, 58%, of the British public believe business behaves very (4%) or fairly (54%) ethically.

– “Executive pay‟ was most commonly identified as an issue that needs addressing by the British public (36%)s

– “Discrimination in treatment of people‟ and “Employees being able to speak out about company wrongdoing‟ were jointly the next most mentioned issues, each selected by 21% of respondents.

– These were closely followed by “Environmental responsibility‟ and “Bribery and corruption‟, selected by 20% and 19% of respondents respectively.

Meanwhile, over the Edelman Trust Barometer, we saw some huge swings:

– Overall trust in business continued to fall, with less than half (47%) of respondents globally saying they would trust business “to do what is right”.

– In the UK the figure was significantly lower (38%).

– Globally, trust in CEOs fell by 12%, the greatest decline to date with only 38% of people considering CEOs to be a credible source of information.

– The Eurozone countries experienced some of the greatest declines of trust in business.

– Notably, trust in France fell from 48% to 28%; in Germany from 52% to 34% and in Spain from 53% to 32%.

– In the BRIC countries, trust in business remained steady in Russia (41%) and India (69%).

– In China, trust in business rose by ten percentage points to 71% whilst in Brazil trust significantly declined – from 81% to 63%.

– Globally, technology continues to be the most trusted sector for the third year (79%), followed by the automotive and food and beverage industries (66% and 64% respectively).

– China experienced the greatest increase, with a rise of 16 percentage points to 79%, followed by India, where trust in NGOs rose by 6 percentage points to 67%.

– Significantly, in Japan trust in NGOs dropped from 51% to 30%; in Brazil from 80% to 49%; and in Russia from 42% to 28%.

– Trust in government declined by 11%, to a record global low. Of the BRIC countries, India was the only country where trust in government rose, by 9 percentage points to 53%.

Finally, Meanwhile, Ernst & Young’s “European Fraud Survey: Recovery, regulation and integrity” showed there’s some serious internal comms work to be done on risk:

– The survey found that almost 1 in 5 employees believe it is acceptable to pay bribes to attain or retain business; little change from the 2009 survey finding.

– A significant proportion also felt it is reasonable to accept personal gifts to win or maintain a business contract – 18% of employees and 24% of those at board/senior level.

– Perhaps unsurprisingly then, more than a quarter of respondents said bribes are commonly used to win contracts in their sector.

– Paradoxically however, nearly half (45%) would be unwilling to work for a company that has been involved in a major bribery or corruptio

– There is a visible lack of training in companies with less than a quarter of employees and less than a third of board directors having received any ABC training.

– Tone from the top is also poor with a quarter of respondents not trusting their managers to behave ethically and 59% expecting management to cut corners to meet business objectives.

Phew, and that’s just a few of them. What are we to make of all this?

I’d only make one point here: Whilst we can take some broad themes from these various surveys, it’s important to note that quantitative research has limitations just as qualitative research does. A mix of both combined with a fair bit of gut feeling when it comes to decisions is the way to go.

Looking through quite a few of the latest reports and surveys, I’ve seen at least three or four major contradictions in findings across them. Sometimes the answer you get depends on when you ask as much as what you ask I suppose. Not to mention HOW you ask it.

So whilst these things are useful, I can’t sometimes help but recall that old Guiness advert, which ended with the words: “66.66% of statistics are made up on the spot”. I’ve used that quote before. Here’s the earlier post.

It’s clearly not true, but the message of caution is a salient one.

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