NBES® of the Construction Industry

Key Findings: NBES of the Construction Industry

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This study was created by the Ethics Research Center (ERC), the research arm of ECI, and made possible in part by support from:
Construction Industry Ethics and Compliance Initiative, Reed Construction Data, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Road and Transportation Builders Association, The Associated General Contractors of America, The Travelers Indemnity Company and Bechtel Corporation

No industry in America is immune to ethics challenges. In truth, certain industries are just inherently more “at risk” for facing ethics issues depending on the kind of work they do. The construction industry is one such industry, especially given the contexts in which organization conduct business, the safety risks that are inherent to their work, and the performance pressures they face.

This risk is evident in the feedback provided by employees in the construction industry, especially when compared to the U.S. national average. More construction employees indicated that they feel pressure to compromise standards; they see more misconduct; and when they report wrongdoing to management, they are far more likely to experience retaliation for having done so. At the same time, however, the construction industry set a new standard for Corporate America with regard to employee reporting.

Employees in the construction industry reported wrongdoing more frequently than any other group of employees in the 19 year history of the ECI’s National Business Ethics Survey® research.

NBES Construction Industry

Noticeable Efforts Being Made
Despite the challenges facing them, the construction industry has taken steps to encourage ethical conduct – and their efforts have made a difference.

ECI’s research has shown that, regardless of the industry, when business leaders take steps to encourage ethical conduct, positive outcomes result (see page 10). This is certainly true of the construction industry; when asked about their organization’s efforts to encourage ethical conduct, more than three out of four employees (80 percent) working in the industry deemed it successful. This is higher than the U.S. average, where only 70 percent of employees had
such positive impressions.

Several important benefits stood out as a result of the efforts taken by these organizations to encourage ethical conduct. A predominance (85 percent) of employees say they consult their organization code when they need guidance regarding an ethics issue, and nearly eight in ten (78 percent) feel prepared to address ethics issues when they arise. Additionally, a similar percentage of employees in the industry say that their supervisors provide them feedback on their conduct, and nearly eight in ten say that they can raise concerns to their managers without fear of retaliation.


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

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