Rather than single out a best business leader, I'd recognize the many unsung ethical heroes in our organizations. I'm talking about people who, even when no one is watching, consistently do the right thing. And they've been doing it at a time when confidence in business urgently needs to be restored.
The news on this front is better than you might expect. A recent survey by the Ethics Resource Center shows that, from 1994 to 2009, the percentage of U.S. employees who report themselves as under pressure to take ethical risks has declined from 28 percent to 8 percent--a huge drop. I think that's in part a tribute to pressure from the workforce itself.
As anybody who hires knows, today's workers--the Gen Ys especially--expect to work for ethical organizations. In 2009, 62 percent of employees see their culture as being very or somewhat ethically strong, a 10-point rise since 2000. It's also worth noting that, in companies where employees see their culture as ethically strong, 91 percent of them feel that executive compensation is appropriate.
What's also remarkable is, at a time when workers worry about anything that might jeopardize their jobs or careers, they still stick their neck out to address wrong-doing. The survey says the percentage of employees who witnessed misconduct fell seven points, from 56 percent in 2007, to 49 percent in 2009. But 63 percent of those who witnessed misconduct reported it, as compared with 58 percent in 2007.
As we prepare our organizations for the upturn, we also need to prepare our people for the uptick in wrong-doing that can accompany better times. In the meantime, let's celebrate the true heroes of the Great Downturn--the workers who, through the toughest of times, have hung tough on their core ethics and values. In a time of reckoning, they constitute a powerful force of hope.
Posted by: DwightCollins | December 16, 2009 6:58 AM
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