British workers ‘put under pressure’ to act unethically in the office

New research reveals a quarter of UK workers have been put under pressure to act unethically at work, with talking behind a colleagues back and lying to hide mistakes being the most common.

New research reveals a significant number of British workers feel they have been put under pressure to act unethically at work. A study for ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) suggests a quarter of workers say they have done things they believe are unethical. Examples include: talking about a colleague behind their back, misusing the company’s time, lying to hide mistakes, bullying, stealing from work, taking credit for work they did not do, using bias to promote or avoid promoting someone and using a position of power to harass someone.

The survey also found half of British workers have encountered some kind of unethical situation at work, and more than 50 percent thought where they worked was not committed to ethical behaviour. Despite a feeling that ethical behaviour at work is in short supply, employees themselves do not appear to want to do anything about it. Nearly half of people questioned said they would turn a blind eye to unethical acts, if they witnessed them.

ACCA’s global president, Brian McEnery, says, ‘Global Ethics Day is when organisations around the world come together to discuss the importance of moral values in business and international affairs.

‘Ethics needs to be at the heart of company culture and ACCA prides itself on bringing a moral code to the forefront. Ten years ago, we were the only professional body to launch a compulsory ethics module as part of our qualification. The most recent changes to the module will ensure the next generation has the broader skills necessary for shaping the future of business.

‘It’s worrying that more than half of British workers think people in a position of power are more likely to behave dishonestly than others. This is why today we are launching our campaign, calling on businesses to take ethics seriously and set the tone from the top.’

The research shows bosses and leaders come in for particular criticism. A fifth of people questioned said they had witnessed bullying or lying to hide mistakes, and a nearly a quarter said their boss had lied to take credit for work they did not do. Five percent of employees said they had also witnessed sexual harassment.

The new module is an essential part of the ACCA Qualification, which is set to launch on Tuesday 31 October 2017.

Further reading on business ethics

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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