In the midst of the daily stream of accusations against Harvey Weinstein, a new research report on behalf of ACCA, into the broader issue of ethics in the workplace, makes sober reading. Whilst not containing quite the colourful and lurid accusations leveled against the Hollywood mogul, the report does present an everyday picture of low standards as widespread as it is depressing. The headlines are:
- A quarter of UK workers have been have been put under pressure to act unethically at work
- Many British workers say their employers are not committed to ethical behaviour
- Half of British workers turned a blind eye to unethical practices they witnessed at work
Other observations that grabbed attention were, for example, that over a half of British workers believe that people in positions of power are more likely to behave unethically. Nearly a quarter of people reported bosses lying to take credit for things they had not done themselves.
So alongside the grand statements of Melvyn King about how accountants can save the planet, perhaps we should add a more modest ambition that our focus on ethical behaviour could provide a positive role model for colleagues. Certainly the emphasis of ACCA and other professional bodies on including ethics in their qualifications and their ongoing CPD is to be applauded. If a professional is not someone who acts ethically, then the term has little meaning.