How much do candidates care about an employer’s ethics?

New research by EY has revealed the impact ethical conduct has on hiring and retaining employees

How much do candidates care about an employer’s ethics?
Employees are demanding absolute clarity around ethical conduct and anything short of that impacts morale, hiring and retention, according to Chris Fordham, EY Asia-Pacific Leader, Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services.

“Corporates need to simplify their compliance protocols to ensure employees follow them,” he said.

Fordham’s comments come amidst which found the significant impact ethical conduct has on hiring and retaining employees.

Indeed, more than three quarters (79%) of Australian respondents stating they would look for a new job if their organisation was involved in a major fraud, bribery or corruption case.

Further, more than nine in ten (93%) of respondents want to work for a compliant organisation but are confused by inconsistent compliance policies that lack clarity and are clouded in legal jargon.

In fact, 35% of Australian respondents believe their organisation’s current code of conduct has little impact on how employees actually behave.  

The EY APAC Fraud Survey 2017 titled ‘Economic uncertainty/Unethical conduct: How should over-burdened compliance functions respond?’, surveyed 1,698 employees from large businesses in 14 Asia-Pacific territories.

The survey highlights the calls from employees for corporate policies combating fraud, bribery and corruption to be simplified to ensure they are not only understood but also complied with.

Only 54% of APAC respondents believe their anti-bribery/anti-corruption (ABAC) policies are relevant and effective. In Australia, 26% of respondents would shorten their existing ABAC policies to ensure key messages don’t get lost and 23% would simplify the language so it wasn’t overly complicated or composed of legal jargon. 

EY Oceania Managing Partner, Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services, Rob Locke added that what’s most concerning for Australian business is the overwhelming belief that achieving economic targets trumps the need for ethical behaviour.

“Our survey revealed that despite wanting to work for ethical organisations, 17% believe it is justified to deliberately misstate a company’s financial performance to meet financial targets,” said Locke.

“A further 20% of respondents believe it is justified to amend financial reports to provide a more positive outlook on results.

“CEOs, boards and senior management not only play an integral role in setting compliance policies but have a responsibility to ensure the wider company is following them. With 43% of Australian respondents believing people with questionable ethical practices are seen to be promoted, Australian business leaders need to recognise that perception is reality when it comes to ethical conduct.”

Sixty-one percent of APAC respondents say they have a whistleblowing hotline within their organisation.

But when it comes to reporting unethical acts, employees are reluctant to use the existing internal whistleblower hotlines as they do not trust their organisation will protect their anonymity or follow-up with proper remedial actions.

Nearly a third (28%) say they would prefer to use external law-enforcement hotlines and even social media channels to report misconduct instead.

In Australia, increased regulatory scrutiny and activity continues to have an impact on employee willingness to use whistleblowing hotlines, with 27% of Australian respondents stating they would be most comfortable reporting misconduct directly to their senior manager.

Despite the growing presence of whistleblowing policies, almost one in five (17%) Australian respondents have withheld information or concerns due to internal pressures.

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