Information about the Implementation and Results of Institute of Business Ethics (IBE, London) Research Survey

The Institute of Business Ethics (IBE), London, United Kingdom, was established in 1986 to encourage high standards of business behavior based on ethical values. Today it leads the dissemination of knowledge and good practice in business ethics globally.

At the end of 2011 the Institute will celebrate its 25th anniversary; we congratulate the Institute on this anniversary and wish it many more years of successful and socially beneficial activities. It is possible to learn more about the Institute and its activities from its website – www.ibe.org.uk.

The information set out here looks at the latest IBE research survey, conducted in 2010. The results of the survey were published in May 2011 under the title “Corporate Ethics Policies and Programmes: UK and Continental Europe Survey 2010” – available from http://www.ibe.org.uk/userfiles/codes_survey_2010final.pdf. The research is a significant and for us inspiring resource for obtaining current information about the effectiveness of ethics programmes in the practical sphere. Further significance consists of the fact that for the first time large companies from four continental European countries (France, Germany, Italy and Spain) were included in the IBE’s research.

The survey report is divided into three main chapters. The first chapter offers an overview of research results which were obtained from the responses of companies listed on the UK FTSE 350 index. These are compared with the results of previous research surveys from 2007, 2004 and 2001, and in some cases also with older research from 1998 and 1995. The second chapter explores the ethics practices of continental European companies and is based on the analysis of data obtained from companies in four continental European countries. This presents an interesting comparison with the results of the research carried out on UK listed companies. The last chapter entitled “Corporate Examples of the Application of Codes of Ethics” presents two practical illustrations from the viewpoint of two large multinational companies on applying the ethics programme in their organisation.

The 2010 IBE survey focuses on ethics programmes in general, rather than other IBE projects, which focus on specific areas of the ethics programme, like codes of ethics or ‘speak up’ procedures.

The IBE survey focuses and provides conclusions on the following business ethics areas:  using and the importance of codes of ethics; responsibility for ethics programme / code of ethics; communicating the ethics policy and code of ethics; ethics training; raising ethical concerns; reference to the code of ethics in employment contracts and disciplinary procedures; monitoring the effectiveness of codes of ethics; important ethics issues for business; and references to external standards and benchmarks in codes of ethics.

The IBE estimates that over 80% of the FTSE  100  have an explicit ethics policy/code of ethics. Among FTSE 350 companies there is an increase in the proportion   that  have  had a code of ethics for five or more years. The report also offers detailed information on what companies are doing in practice which can be useful for organisations seeking to establish an ethics programme.

The main findings from the survey include:

  1. Boards of UK companies are increasingly involved in reviewing the effectiveness of their organisation’s ethics policies and programme.
  2. Bribery, corruption and facilitation payments along with discrimination issues and speak up policies lead the list of ‘significant issues’ for UK companies. In 2007 it was ‘safety and security’ and ‘environmental impact’.
  3. Only six out of ten UK companies provide training in business ethics for all their staff. The 2007 survey found that training was provided by seven out of ten UK companies.
  4. The method most favoured for ethics training by UK companies is ‘in-house seminars’ (78%) followed by e-learning (67%).
  5. Nearly all UK and continental European companies surveyed said they provided a mechanism for raising ethical concerns.
  6. 83% of responding UK companies screen  suppliers  and other business partners for ethical standards.
  7. References to the corporate code of ethics in the recruitment process were found to be more likely among continental European companies than those in the UK.
  8. Continental European companies are more likely to have a stand-alone ethics/compliance function with responsibility for the code and ethics programme than UK companies.

We would like to thank the Institute of Business Ethics for giving us permission to process and publish this information.

Mgr. Silvia Ukropová
Institute of Business Ethics 17.10.2011
24 Greencoat Place, London SW1P 1BE
Info@ibe.org.uk
www.ibe.org.uk

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