Loyalty to the firm outweighed by loyalty to our colleagues, says CISI survey

by Lora Benson | May 15, 2017
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A Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) survey* on ethical behaviour in the UK workplace has revealed some surprising public attitudes to everyday work dilemmas.

The CISI, the professional body for those working in wealth management, financial planning and capital markets, was the first financial services professional body to introduce an integrity test for members in April 2013, with over 50,000 global candidates now having completed the IntegrityMatters workshop and test.

This research on workplace behaviour shows that respondents found misdemeanours to be more acceptable when it was less clear who was being disadvantaged as a result. For example, whilst the survey showed that only 10% of women and 8% of men thought it acceptable to go to a communal fridge and take another staff member’s milk (for example), 49% of people felt it was acceptable to take a low value item (such as a pen, pencil or post-it note) from their workplace.

Additionally, when asked: “How acceptable is it to make up to 10 photocopies without paying?” almost three in five (59%) of people found this acceptable. Age proved to be a distinction in responses, with seven out of 10 (72%) of 18-29 year olds saying this was acceptable and 50% of 50-59 year olds.

The responses differed when the value of items was increased. When asked whether it would be acceptable to take “medium value” items from work, eg a hole-punch or stapler, only one in five (20%) of people thought this was acceptable and for “high value” items, eg computer keyboard, mouse or monitor, only 3% of people indicating this was acceptable.

Further exploring the nature of professional work relationships, respondents were asked: “How acceptable is it to divulge confidential information at work about a colleague to that colleague?” Just over one in five (21%) said this was acceptable, younger people were the most likely to believe this (27% of 18-29s), with 23% of men versus 18% of women finding this acceptable. This supports CISI previous research, which revealed that men were more likely to think that it is acceptable to use confidential information belonging to a competitor for the gain of your own employer (47% of men felt that this was acceptable, compared to 33% of women). 

A question posed a hypothetical scenario around the issue of finding money at work: “How acceptable is it to find money in a communal bathroom at work and keep it rather than hand it to Human Resources (HR)?”  Over three in five (61%) of respondents said this was “never acceptable at any amount”, with 58% of men versus 63% of women agreeing. People’s behaviour was found to change as the £ value rose: 35% would keep £1 or more, 29% would keep £2 or more, 23% would keep £5 or more and only 12% would keep £10 or more.

The survey commissioned by the CISI and undertaken by YouGov builds on previous survey findings released by CISI earlier this year which demonstrated that ethical attitudes differ between men and women and between age groups. The previous research also revealed that the ‘faceless nature of technology’ was a factor when we decide how acceptable certain behaviours are.

Rebecca Aston, CISI Ethics and Integrity Manager said: “The survey results suggest that, on the whole, our feelings of allegiance and commitment to our work colleagues are paramount when the issue of trust arises.

“A variance of behaviour seems to occur when people are faced with everyday decisions, which could lead, in effect, to the stealing of nominal sum items from their employer. In these scenarios, individual behaviour indicates that there is a sense of entitlement, in that an employer should carry a certain amount of commercial loss.”

The CISI has been promoting integrity and ethics in financial services since its foundation in 1992, with 2017 being the Institute’s 25th anniversary. It has undertaken this research as part of its remit to provide thought leadership for financial services on the topic of integrity and ethics. The CISI believes that integrity and ethics are key components of professionalism, which it defines as the effective combination of knowledge, skills and behaviour.

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ACTION:

Colleague impact

% of people who thought this was acceptable

How acceptable is it to go to a communal fridge, get lunch and take some of another staff member’s milk or other item?

 

9% (10% women and 8% men)

How acceptable is it to divulge confidential information at work about a colleague to that colleague?

21% (23% men vs 18% women)

How acceptable is it to find money in a communal bathroom at work and keep it rather than hand it to HR?

61% said “never at any amount”.

35% would keep £1 or more

29% would keep £2 or more

23% would keep £5 or more

12% would keep £10 or more

 

 

ACTION:

Commercial entity/business impact

% of people who thought this was acceptable

How acceptable is it to make up to 10 photocopies without paying?

59% (60% men vs 58% women) 72% 18-29 yr olds and 50% of 50-59 yr olds

How acceptable is it to take low value items from work?

49% - 20% for medium value and 3% for high value

 

 

*The CISI survey fieldwork was conducted by YouGov 11-18 October 2016. The survey was carried out online and all figures, unless stated otherwise, are from YouGov plc. Total sample size was 2,056 adults aged 18+.