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October 18, 2017updated 03 Jan 2021 5:40pm

UK workers under unethical pressure

By Stephanie Wix

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has commissioned research into workplace ethics which has found that 66% of people in the UK have encountered unethical situations at work, but that 55% would turn a blind eye.

The survey of 1,108 workers in the UK and Ireland was carried out online by Research Without Barriers (RWB) between 22 and 27 September 2017. It found that even though 93% believe ethics is somewhat or very important in the workplace, and 92% consider themselves an ethical person at work, 40% have admitted to committing unethical acts, with 24% saying that had been put under pressure to act unethically.

The respondents had seen their colleagues committing unethical behaviours by talking behind the back of a colleague (53%), lying to hide mistakes (37%), misusing the company’s time (36%), taking credit for the work of another (30%), bullying (26%), stealing (22%), using bias for promotion (19%), and using a position of power to sexually harass someone (7%).

Although 34% said they had not encountered any of those unethical situations themselves, other respondents said they had encountered talking behind the back of a colleague (46%), lying to hide mistakes (28%), misusing the company’s time (27%), bullying (22%), stealing from work (23%), using bias for promotions (14%), and taking credit for the work of another (20%).

The research also found that 54% had seen a boss or superior committing unethical behaviours, with 26% talking behind a colleague’s back. Even though 46% do not believe their workplace is committed to installing ethical behaviour more than half of employees would not take action.

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