reprimanding unethical behavior in a corporation

Less than half of companies encourage discussion of moral dilemmas and criticism of censurable conduct at the workplace, according to a global survey of over 1,800 communication professionals conducted by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Research Foundation.

According to the new report, The Business of Truth: A Guide to Ethical Communication, most organizations maintain or practice a generally “healthy” climate for ethical concerns and issues, with 70 percent of respondents agreeing that their organization makes it clear to employees what is ethically acceptable and what is not acceptable. Additionally, 67 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that top management has let it be known in no uncertain terms that unethical behavior will not be tolerated.

However, the research also found that only 61 percent of companies encourage openness about ethical/unethical conduct in their organizations and only 46 percent of companies encourage discussion of moral dilemmas and censurable conduct in their organizations.

At the workplace:

46% said that discussion of moral dilemmas and criticism of censurable conduct is encouraged.

60% said that openness about ethical/unethical conduct is encouraged.

70% said that it is clear to employees what is ethically acceptable and what is not.

67%said that top management has let it be known that unethical behavior will not be tolerated.

The research also explored organizational values about ethical conduct of managers. The majority of the study’s respondents (69 percent) disagreed with the statement that managers in their company often engaged in unethical behavior. When questioned further on corporate values on reprimanding unethical behavior, 68 percent of communicators said their companies would promptly reprimand managers found to be acting unethically for personal gain. However, if the unethical behavior was primarily for corporate gain, only half the respondents (51 percent) believed that the manager would be reprimanded by their company.

Managers and ethics:

17% agreed that managers in their company often engaged in unethical behaviors.

68% agreed that if a manager is discovered to have acted unethically for personal gain, he will be reprimanded.

51% agreed that if a manager is discovered to have acted unethically for corporate gain, he will be reprimanded.

The IABC report, The Business of Truth, has sparked a debate on who is responsible for managing and handling ethical concerns at an organization. Who do you think is the ethical conscience of an organization? Participate in IABC’s quick online poll by casting your vote at www.iabc.com/polls/1.

About the study

The IABC Research Foundation received responses to its ethics survey from 1,827 communication professionals from around the world. In addition, qualitative data was collected through focus groups and in-depth interviews with senior and mid-level communicators in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Israel and Australia.

The Business of Truth: A Guide to Ethical Communication includes quantitative and qualitative research findings, an examination of theories of ethics, and a toolkit with workbooks and PowerPoint training modules. To order, visit http://store.yahoo.com/iabcstore/knowcenres.html or call +1 415.544.4700 or 800.776.4222 for more information.

About IABC

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a global network of communication professionals committed to improving organizational effectiveness through strategic communication. Established in 1970, IABC serves more than 13,000 members in 67 countries, 100 chapters and 10,000 organizations. For more information, visit www.iabc.com.

About the IABC Research Foundation

The IABC Research Foundation translates communication theory into practice, providing real-world knowledge and applications for the communication profession. Established in 1982, the Foundation is a tax-exempt organization with benefits to the donor under U.S. tax law. For more information, visit www.iabc.com/rf.



Author Information

Archana Verma
IABC

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