IoIC: Leading by example is key to a sustainable ethical culture

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Written by Seun Robert-Edomi on 19 September 2013 in News
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The survey revealed that gaining employee trust was proving difficult for many leaders

The actions of leaders and the quality of their communication are critical factors in embedding an ethical culture.

These are key findings from the IoIC's ethics survey, released at the Ethics in Internal Communication Summit in Central London.

Respondents said that the most important factor in creating a sustainable ethical culture was leaders who lead by example with 95 per cent rating this as very important, and five per cent as important. A culture of transparency, openness and honesty came second, rated by 84 per cent as very important and 14 per cent as important. Clear organisational values came third - 67 per cent rating it as very important and 30 per cent as important.

When asked to rate internal communications activities in terms of their importance in embedding an ethical culture, leadership issues were also high on communicators' list. The most important activity was seen as promoting open/two-way communication. This was followed by helping leaders understand and fulfil their communication responsibilities and supporting leaders/managers in projecting themselves as open, honest and ethical.

The survey also revealed that gaining employee trust was proving difficult for many leaders. Thirty-four per cent categorised employees' level of trust in their leaders as 'neutral', while another 28 per cent said it was low (24 per cent) or very low (four per cent).

Other findings include:

•        83 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement 'my organisation has a clear ethics policy/code of conduct'

•        58 per cent of respondents thought their organisation's culture was very ethical (21 per cent) or ethical (37 per cent), with a further 29 per cent considering it to be quite ethical. 

IoIC chief executive Steve Doswell said: "These findings illustrate that, while an ethics policy and code of conduct provide important foundations, some other factors are critical to achieving a sustainable ethical culture - and foremost amongst these are leaders seen to behave in an authentic fashion, who communicate effectively and encourage open, honest, two-way communication.

"The survey also shows that a significant proportion of communicators do not feel well equipped to deal with ethical issues, and there is considerable uncertainty about what they can and should aim to achieve for their organisation in relation to its ethical performance."

He added: "The Ethics in Internal Communication Summit, co-hosted with the Reputation Institute - and this  survey - are the first in a series of initiatives to continue over the coming months, in which we will explore the ethical issues and challenges facing internal communicators and provide guidance on how to tackle them."

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