Ethics embedded at board level but not training, says IBE
More companies than ever before are investing in ethics programmes, according to the latest survey from the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE), citing seven out of 10 respondents investing compared to five out 10 in 2010 (68% of UK and 82% of Continental European respondents) .
What is more, 87% of UK respondents stated that a member of the board of directors took ultimate responsibility for the ethics programme. This suggests that the embedding of ethical values is being given a higher priority at this level, says the IBE.
However, ethics is only a regular board agenda item for 65% of UK respondents and 70% of other European companies.
Simon Webley, IBE’s research director said: “When you consider the cost of ethical failures to a company’s reputation, it is a cause for concern that more boards are not assessing their company’s ethical performance.”
Nearly two thirds of respondent companies stated 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, and three quarters say that a breach of their company’s code of ethics has led to a disciplinary procedure during the last three years.
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.
Simon Webley commented: “For training to be effective and the information retained by employees, it needs to be repeated. Without regular refresher sessions it is unlikely that employees will gain the necessary acumen and sensitivity. As a result, the risk of an ethical lapse occurring in their business conduct is more likely.”