Ethical Leadership Around the World – and Why it Matters

Content provided by the Ethics Research Center (ERC), the research arm of ECI.

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A Research Report from ECI’s Global Business Ethics Survey™

Ethical Leadership Promotes Long Term Organizational Success

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ECI members get access to the full version of this report as one of the many benefits of ECI membership.

This report was made possible in part through funding from:

L'Oreal


ECI has fostered ethics and compliance (E&C) professionals with insight and research on the most pressing issues to the E&C industry since 1922, and this new report importantly underscores the critical role management plays in reducing stakeholder pressure to compromise their ethical standards.

The Ethical Leadership report relies on information gathered by ECI for their National Business Ethics Survey (NBES) and their Global Business Ethics Survey (GBES), ECI’s most rigorous study of American perceptions of ethics in the workplace, along with insights and information from leading global compliance practitioners. This report can be chiefly simplified into two key findings: 1) stronger ethical leadership equates to reduced ethics and compliance risk, and 2) stronger ethical leadership increased the likelihood organizations will keep valued employees.

Executive Summary

Ethical leadership has long been a topic of interest in the ethics and compliance community and a pointed research focus at the Ethics & Compliance Initiative. Past research conducted in the United States and at multinational organizations has consistently shown that:

  • Ethical leadership is a critical factor in driving down ethics and compliance risk;
  • Leaders have a “rosier” view of the state of workplace integrity, and often have more positive beliefs than employees further down the chain of command; and
  • The quality of the relationship between supervisors and reports goes a long way in determining whether employees report workplace integrity issues to management.

The Global Business Ethics Survey allowed us to test these ideas in a more global sphere, to see if these trends held on different continents and in vastly different cultures. We learned that when it comes to ethical leadership and its impact on workplace integrity, our 13 GBES countries were far more similar than different. Key trends were (nearly) universal, which gives us renewed confidence about their applicability in numerous regions and cultures.

ECI members get access to the full version of this report as one of the many benefits of ECI membership.