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One in 10 managers have been asked to break the law at work

Helen Mayson

Added values news story

We all like to think we have strong values and ethics - but what about the organisations where we work? Added Values: the importance of ethical leadership, the latest research report from ILM and Business in the Community, reveals that one in ten managers have been asked to break the law at work

Over three fifths (63%) of managers have been expected to behave unethically at work, according the results of a new piece of research from ILM and Business in the Community (BITC) called Added values: the importance of ethical leadership. But even more shocking, almost one in 10 managers (9%) have been asked to do something illegal in the course of their working life.

One in 10 managers have been asked to break the law at work

The statistics come from a survey of over 1,000 leaders and managers who were asked about their experience of ethics and values statements at work. While 83% said they organisations they worked in had an explicit statement of values, 43% had been asked to directly violate their organisations' values statement at some point in their careers.

"Despite business ethics coming under increasing public scrutiny in recent years, our research highlights the occurrence of ethical conflicts in the workplace today," says Charles Elvin, CEO of ILM. "As well as being potentially ruinous to a company's reputation, we see that ethical failings can have a negative impact on employee happiness, loyalty and trust in their organisation."

Ethical dilemmas

A quarter (27%) of respondents were worried about the consequences of reporting a breach of ethics in their organisation, with whistleblowing fears highest among junior managers (17% of whom were certain of experiencing negative consequences) than directors (9%).

51% of managers said they have been asked to behave at work in a way that made them feel uncomfortable, and one in 10 managers had resigned as a result, with a further 16% considering resigning.

"Responsible leaders must make sure the managers throughout their organisation are involved in the creation of values and understand how those values apply to their day to day work," says Stephen Howard, CEO of Business in the Community.

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Added Values: the importance of ethical leadership

9% of managers have been asked to break the law at work

Download the full report