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As it turns out, company rules are being flouted most frequently by none other than organisations’ heads themselves.
According to the 2013 National Business Ethics Survey by the Ethics Resource Centre, 60% of misconduct involved someone with managerial authority from the supervisory level up to top management.
In addition, the report, which surveyed 6,579 respondents in the US, found 24% of observed misdeeds involved senior managers.
“The data reveals that managers are responsible for a worrisome share of workplace misconduct, and senior leaders are more likely than lower-level managers to break rules,” the report stated.
The survey also highlighted concerns with reporting deeds of misconduct in the workplace.
Among those who observed misconduct in 2013, 63% reported what they saw, compared to 65% in 2011.
“It is clear that manager behaviour could be improved, and that reducing retaliation is essential. Building strong ethics cultures remains a constant work in progress,” the survey said.
The report also went into detail about the most common type of unethical behaviours committed in general within an organisation.
Abusive behavior, which was observed by 18% of workers, topped the list, and was followed by lying to employees (17%), discrimination (12%), and sexual harassment (7%).
Despite these figures, there may still be cause for optimism as the report highlighted a dip in misconduct overall.
According to the survey, the percentage of workers who said they observed misconduct on the job fell to an all-time low of 41% in 2013, down from 45% two years ago and a record high of 55% six years ago.
“The dip in misconduct may reflect workers’ tendency to take fewer risks when economic prospects seem weak or uncertain, given the relatively soft recovery since 2008,” the report said.