Is yours Fit for Purpose?
In 2018 the Institute of Business Ethics carried out a survey of employee's attitudes to ethics and culture in the workplace. Their key findings are surprising:
- 19% of employees felt that honesty was not practiced daily in their workplace.
- 24% of employees were aware of misconduct at work (treating people inappropriately, bullying, harassment and safety violations).
- 12% of employees have felt pressured to compromise ethical standards.
Organisations who do not focus on creating a safe place of work risk:
- Reputational damage.
- The loss of talent as intolerance towards inappropriate behaviour increases and then challenges recruiting.
- Focusing more resources on dealing with disputes in the workplace whether grievances or disciplinary processes.
- At worst, having to defend litigation.
The number of tribunal claims has increased rapidly particularly since the abolition of fees in 2017. This together with employees' rights to make Data Subject Access Requests, mean that a failure to create an appropriate culture, can become hugely costly, time consuming and damaging.
What many companies fail to recognise is that individuals can sue not only the organisation but individual managers and colleagues too. There is also no limit on the amount of compensation awarded in discrimination cases.
There may also be obligations to report inappropriate behaviour to a regulator and if employees report matters to the police, co-operation in a criminal investigation.
In regulated industries (such as financial services) inappropriate behaviour and culture can also lead to the end of individual careers if found guilty of bullying, harassment or discrimination.