Global Workplace Survey: US Rates of Reported Misconduct Sets National Record; Retaliation Has Doubled

By ECI Connector posted Mar 19,2018 13:07

For Immediate Release
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Ryan McKenna at

ARLINGTON, Va., March 19, 2018 -- Reporting of suspected wrongdoing in organizations nationally has reached a historic high, while rates of retaliation for reporting of suspected wrongdoing have doubled in the last two years, according to the Ethics & Compliance Initiative's (ECI) Global Business Ethics Survey (GBES). 

  • Sixty-nine percent of employees said they reported the misconduct they observed; a 19% increase and all-time high since the inception of ECI's research. 
  • When asked if employees had experienced retaliation for reporting, 44% of respondents unveiled that they had been retaliated against, compared to 22% in 2013.  
  • Historically, ECI has demonstrated that reporting and retaliation rise and fall together; however, this year retaliation rose significantly higher than reporting. 

"The data suggest that, while conduct in organizations has improved, there is cause for concern," said Patricia Harned, CEO of ECI.  "Pressure for employees to cut corners is on the rise, along with retaliation for reporting.  Previous GBES studies have shown that these are the two indicators of trouble ahead." 

Additional Highlights from US Data:

  • Rates of observed misconduct have declined 15% since 2013, close to historic low.
  • 16% of employees experienced pressure to compromise ethical standards, a 23% increase since 2013. Additionally, 84% of these employees also observed misconduct.
  • 1 in 5 employees state that their company has a strong ethical culture, indicating that little progress has been made to implement the most important strategy for mitigating wrongdoing.  Further 40% of employees believed that their company has a weak or weak leaning ethical culture; a trend that has not notably changed since 2000. 

"This latest update on the state of ethics & compliance sends a warning signal to every business leader," Harned said.  "Rather than taking comfort in the low levels of misconduct right now, leaders should be concerned that the situation will likely change."

Highlights from Global Findings:

  • India has the highest reporting of observed misconduct (82%); Russia has the lowest (37%)
  • Indonesia has the highest rate of observed misconduct (48%); Japan has the lowest (15%)
  • India has the highest rate of retaliation against employees (74%) China has the lowest (29%)
  • Brazil has the highest rate of pressure to compromise ethical standards (46%); Spain has the lowest (10%)

The entire survey's findings, including the executive summary and global trends are available here:

The GBES consists of data from two surveys, one focused exclusively on the US, and another on global data. The GBES, a biennial longitudinal study, identifies changes in the levels and types of observed misconduct in business organizations.  It also measures employee patterns in reporting observed misconduct, perceptions of leader, strength of ethical cultures, and the extent to which retaliation is an issue in the workplace. 

US Data: In December 2017, ECI continued its longitudinal study of the US workforce and collected data from over 5,000 employees. ECI began its longitudinal study in 1994, and has since surveyed over 39,000 US employees.

Global Data: In 2015, ECI conducted a global survey of 13 countries. In 2017, ECI updated the global data with findings from an additional five countries. In total, ECI surveyed 18,000 employees from across the globe.

About the Ethics & Compliance Initiative 
The Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI) is a non-profit organization that empowers its members across the globe to operate their businesses at the highest levels of integrity.  The organization provides research and a best practice community, as well as certification opportunities for ethics & compliance professionals. Through its membership, ECI represents entities across nearly every industry, located in 37 countries on six continents each dedicated to promoting the highest levels of integrity.