ClearView Strategic Partners

ClearView Strategic Partners

July 03, 2013 07:00 ET

Theft, Abuse & Cooking the Books: 42% of Canadians Admit Witnessing Misconduct at Work

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - July 3, 2013) - According to a recent survey on ethics in Canadian organizations, 42% of working Canadians have witnessed misconduct at their current employer. If this percentage is extrapolated to the entire Canadian population, as many as 7.1 million Canadians may have seen wrongdoing at work.

The data regarding the amount of misconduct occurring is startling: 28% of respondents witnessed the misuse of company property at their current employer, 25% saw harm to employees, 17% observed privacy violations, 17% were aware of fraud, 13% witnessed conflicts of interest, 9% knew about bribery or corruption, 12% observed environmental violations, and 11% had knowledge of the misrepresentation of financial results.

"Senior business leaders should use these results to take a long, hard look at the ethics within their organizations, and determine ways they can improve their programs and strengthen their ethical cultures," said Phil Enright, President & CEO of ClearView Strategic Partners Inc., the ethics reporting/whistleblowing and advisory services firm that sponsored the survey. "Wrongdoing can negatively impact your organization's reputation and financial well-being, while a strong ethical culture can positively impact your organization's performance and reduce risk."

Equally disturbing is that 48% of the working Canadians who witnessed workplace misconduct did not report it. Their reluctance or inability to 'speak up' about wrongdoing in the workplace may be linked to a lack of faith that investigations will be conducted properly (69%) or a belief that disciplinary measures will not be applied consistently (66%), or be due to the fact that many fear retaliation or negative consequences as a result of reporting (23%).

"Understanding why over 40% of respondents witnessed misconduct, but almost half did not report it, should lead to remedies, improved preventative measures, and a reduction in unethical behaviour," says Leonard Brooks, Professor of Business Ethics and Accounting at the University of Toronto. "Understanding the nature of the misconduct witnessed is also essential to effective governance. Directors, corporate executives and senior management of organizations, who cannot personally interact with many employees, need to ensure that their corporate culture is supportive of concerned employees who want to improve and protect their company. This is just sound risk management."

The survey revealed that working Canadians are under tremendous pressure to compromise ethical standards to achieve their goals. One in three working Canadians felt that delivering results in their organization was more important than doing the right thing. Furthermore, 22% of respondents felt they had to compromise their personal ethics to keep their job. This is clearly a red flag for Canadian organizations concerned about reputational risk and the severe repercussions that can arise from ethical meltdowns - and should serve as a wake-up call to leaders in both public and private sectors.

"There are a number of things organizations can do to improve ethics," said Enright, pointing to three important survey findings, "first, set up strong incentives to act with integrity; second, improve confidence in investigation and disciplinary systems; and third, protect employees who wish to report misconduct by eliminating retaliation and providing secure, confidential and anonymous reporting channels."

The ClearView 2013 Workplace Ethics Survey was conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of ClearView Strategic Partners Inc. from June 7 to 11, 2013. The survey polled 1054 working Canadians in both public and private sectors. It is one of the latest initiatives by ClearView to raise awareness about ethics in the Canadian workplace.

ClearView Strategic Partners Inc. is Canada's leading ethics reporting and advisory services firm. The ClearView Connects ethics reporting and hotline solution provides employees and stakeholders with a secure, confidential and anonymous mechanism to report incidents of wrongdoing, concerns and suggestions for improvement. ClearView also provides its clients with custom research and consulting services, focused on the assessment and strategic improvement of organizational ethics programs, practices and culture. For more information, visit us at

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