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AU ethics programmes grow, but so does retaliation risk

AU ethics programmes grow, but so does retaliation risk

Even though Australian workplace ethics programmes are more common than they have been in the past, Aussie employees are also among the most likely to experience retaliation after raising concerns about workplace misconduct. 

The report, IBE’s 2021 Ethics at Work international report surveyed 10,000 employees across 13 countries over four continents – including Australia – to gauge their views on business and workplace ethics. 

The results? In 2021 Australian employees were significantly less likely to say that they had been aware of misconduct at work, compared to 2018 (14% vs 24%). Worldwide, they were among the least likely to say that they had been aware of misconduct, following Germany at 10%.

When it comes to ethics programmes, 75% of Australian employees said they were aware of written standards of ethical business conduct in their organisation, compared to a global average of just 67%. They were also more likely to be aware of the building blocks of an ethics programme, especially in regards to the importance of ethics training (67% in 2021 vs 59% in 2018). 

The vast majority of Australian respondents said that their line manager set a good example of ethical business behaviour (76%), that their line manager supported them in following their organisation’s standards of ethical behaviour (75%) and that senior management took ethics seriously (78%). 

Troublingly however, retaliation towards employees that had made reports was common. According to the report, Australian employees were among the most likely to experience retaliation after they raised concerns about misconduct (53%), along with French employees (60%). 

The main reasons why employees did not raise their concerns was that they felt they might jeopardise their job (42%) and that they felt it might alienate themselves from their colleagues (29%). 

“Retaliation is an issue that needs addressing,” says IBE. “Many of those who raise their concerns about misconduct experience retaliation as a result and it is one of the main reasons why some employees do not raise their concerns when they become aware of the misconduct.”

Other key stats for Australia include: 

  • 2021, 86% of Australian employees said that honesty was practised always or frequently in their organisation, in line with the global average (86%). 
  • Employees in Australia seemed to have positive views of how their organisation engaged with external stakeholders: 80% said that their organisation acted responsibly in all its business dealings and 72% said that it lived up to its stated policy of social responsibility.
  • The percentage of employees who had felt pressured to compromise their organisation’s standards of behaviour decreased slightly in Australia compared to 2018 (11% vs 13%). The main source of pressure for Australian employees was due to following their boss’s orders (37%), followed by time pressure/unrealistic deadlines (32%). 
  • In Australia, 63% of employees that had been aware of misconduct at work spoke up about it with management, another appropriate person, or through another mechanism. That makes Australia one of the countries with the highest percentage of employees who said so, together with the US (76%) and South Africa (67%). 
  • 62% of Australian employees who spoke up about misconduct were satisfied with the outcome. 

Read the full report here

Report It Now helps businesses build ethics programmes, provides customised  training services and enterprise case management software. To learn more about supporting ethical behaviour in the workplace, contact us for a free, confidential discussion.

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