Almost half (42%) feel their senior management would act in an unethical manner in order to ensure the survival of a business, according to the latest EY fraud survey.
“Bribery and corruption is still perceived to be a prevalent issue in the UK, despite increased focus and scrutiny from the government and regulators”, said Jonathan Middup, partner at EY fraud investigation & dispute services.
The news comes a fortnight after the OECD realised a report claiming that Brexit could hurt anti-corruption efforts.
The figures from EY place the UK at 34th place in a table of perceived bribery and corruption practices within the country.
The percentage of those respondents perceiving corruption to be widespread dropped by just 2% since 2015 to 27%. Only one in four respondents reported frequently hearing senior management figures discussing the maintenance of ethical standards in business.
“The picture we are seeing from the survey and in our conversations with clients is that while many companies may think they have an effective compliance framework in place, in reality some are struggling to create a culture where it is in employees’ interests to do the right thing”, explained Middup.
Again, only 29% felt their company had taken appropriate action against an employee for breach of ethical standards.
The survey suggests that the UK is failing to develop an appropriate culture of ethical behaviour.
“Many employees are unaware of the correct channels to report wrongdoing but perhaps more worryingly, it’s clear that some also feel under pressure to withhold information”, Middup said.
More than half of respondents said they would not report unethical behaviour due to concern of repercussions to their career and a further 33% said would avoid speaking out due to fear for their personal safety.