ECI, PRCA Release United Kingdom Employee Data From ECI Global Business Ethics Survey®

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and Vienna, Virginia-based Ethics and Compliance Initiative (ECI) released today ECI’s Global Business Ethics Survey® (GBES®) fact sheet for the United Kingdom, revealing insights about cross-functional U.K.-based employee perceptions of ethics within their organisations.
 
The fact sheet explores perceptions of ethical strength, pressure to compromise ethical standards, observations of misconduct, reporting misconduct, and retaliation perceived by employees after they report misconduct.
 
According to the GBES data, U.K. employees across all work sectors and disciplines reported that:

1. Only 13% of U.K. employees perceive that they experience a strong ethical culture in their organisation (compared with the global median of 14%).

2. 26% of U.K. employees experience pressure to compromise their organisation’s workplace ethical standards (compared with a global median of 29%).
– In the prior year (2019), 24% of U.K. employees observed misconduct – indicating a 2 percentage-point increase for 2020 over the prior year.  Country profile UK on ethics and compliance in workplaces

3. 23% of U.K. employees observed misconduct in 2020 that violated their organisation’s ethical standards (compared with a global median of 33%).
– In the prior year (2019), 25% of U.K. employees observed misconduct – indicating a 2 percentage-point decline in 2020 from the prior year.  

4. 82% of U.K. employees reported misconduct that they observed in 2020 (compared with a global median of 81%).
– In the prior year (2019), 78% of U.K. employees reported misconduct – indicating a 4 percentage-point increase / upward trend for 2020.  

5. 74% of U.K. employees experienced retaliation after reporting misconduct that they had observed (compared with a global median of 61%).
– In the prior year (2019), 66% of U.K. employees experienced retaliation – indicating an 8 percentage-point increase / upward trend for 2020.

According to the overarching GBES data, ECI reported, “the findings illustrate that employee conduct around the world has been drastically impacted against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
 
PRCA Global Ethics Council Member and Firefly Communications Group CEO Claire Walker FPRCA said:
 
“The report is a wakeup call for business leaders. 74% of UK employees experienced retaliation after reporting misconduct? All the smiling Friday work drinks and profitable quarters can’t escape this truth – toxic cultures can leave a trail of broken people.
 
“It’s not enough today to just run a successful business – the last 18 months has made that very clear. The drive for change is no small task but the collective action of business leaders and line-managers can make a difference.”

PRCA Director General Francis Ingham MPRCA said:
 
“Ethical communications, relationship-building and reputation-management begins and ends with strong, overarching workplace ethics and management cultures. Without full board-level and C-suite ethics commitments and supportive systems in place, no PR effort in the world can be credible or effective in salvaging brand-reputation if misconduct is rife within an organisation. Our PRCA members subscribe to an enforced ethics code that requires honesty and integrity in all aspects of how we practice public relations, and we urge executive management teams to engage the PRCA’s and ECI’s ethical-compliance tenets in core policies, decision-making and communications.”
 
ECI CEO and PRCA Ethics Council Member Dr. Patricia Harned said:
 
“As ECI’s GBES global report also indicates, the workplace is a pressure-cooker right now for employees in the U.S. and around the world. While employees seem to be withstanding the pressure and reporting misconduct more than ever before, the situation is tenuous with increasing rates of misconduct and very high rates of retaliation. There may be a breaking point.”

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