Banking and finance leaders are becoming more ethical

by | Oct 15, 2011 | News

Nicky Little from Cirrus writes for Human Resources magazine

Most UK leaders are putting profit ahead of principles but many feel that banking and finance leaders have become more ethical.

The ethical behaviour of organisations across the UK has been under increased scrutiny in the wake of the phone hacking and MPs’ expenses scandals – and of course, the banking crisis.

A recent ILM survey shows less than a third (30%) of CEOs of large organisations are seen by their employees to place ethics at the heart of their business decisions.

The positive news from the survey is that the greatest improvement in ethics levels is in the banking and finance sector, where almost half of staff (46%) say the industry has upped its ethics over the last three years.

The least positive news? The highest percentage of employees who feel their organisation operates less ethically today than three years ago work in national and local government, where 21% feel activities have become less ethical since 2008.

Many leaders in the banking and finance sector have certainly made greater efforts to increase transparency and openness – partly through regulation, but also through cultural change. While many – including the industry itself – feel there is still some way to go to restore trust, the results of this survey demonstrate that effective change is happening.

Employees, customers, the media and wider stakeholders are more proactive than ever when it comes to challenging the leaders of major organisations and holding them to account. Many leaders are responding to this in a positive way – through open, honest communication. They recognise that values and ethics are important to how their businesses operate, and how they are perceived by others.

Profit is of course a key output of business success. What more leaders are now recognising is that sound principles can actually help boost profit, by encouraging a wider range of stakeholders to engage with their organisations to achieve shared value through working on shared values. Just consider the enviable reputation of organisations such as John Lewis and The Co-operative, both proud to be driven by strong values.

Please click here to read Nicky’s article on the Human Resources website.

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