Surveys on Business Ethics, 2015

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Every year, the IBE publishes a summary of useful surveys which have been published the previous year on a business ethics theme.

Taking an overarching view on the results of these pieces of research, the following themes emerge, all of which have a practical application for ethics and compliance practitioners.

Overall, the global business ethics landscape seems to be moving in a positive direction. There seems to be global emphasis on putting formalised structures for ethics in place, rather than relying on an ad hoc approach to such important issues.

This positive direction is also seen in a general increase in the investment in the ethics function and the increasing awareness of elements of an ethics programme such as a code of ethics, speak up (whistleblowing) lines and ethics training.

There also appears to be a growing body of evidence for the business case for business ethics, with research showing the positive impact on employees of being a leading ethical organisation.

However, three areas requiring ongoing focus emerge: engaging middle managers, the treatment of whistleblowers and training on how to handle ethical dilemmas.

Finally, while there are many positive movements in the field of business ethics, it appears that the public (certainly in the UK) is yet to be convinced. IBE research has found that in introductions to corporate codes of ethics, trust has replaced integrity as the most frequently used ethical word. However, there is still much to do to earn public trust.