More than two-fifths of companies (44%) say they have fired or disciplined senior leadership for unethical conduct in the past year, according to a survey by ethics and compliance training firm LRN.
LRN’s 2023 ethics and compliance program effectiveness report includes surveys of more than 1,800 compliance and ethics professionals at large organizations around the globe. According to the research, 85% of respondents said their ethical cultures were stronger as a result of their experiences meeting the challenges of the past year, with more than half of respondents giving their executives high marks for taking ethical considerations into account in business decision-making. More widely, a majority (84%) said their organizations relied on values, rather than rules, to motivate their employees to “do the right thing.”
However, the research also highlights key areas where improvement is much needed to strengthen E&C programs, with a significant proportion of respondents identifying that inadequate internal systems (76%), staff shortages (73%), budget constraints (73%) and employee disengagement (68%) are major obstacles to program effectiveness.
Here are a few other key findings:
- Only 25% plan to enhance their trade controls and sanctions training and just under half (45%) have strengthened risk controls in this area, despite the ongoing war in Ukraine.
- Among those whose organizations terminated or disciplined a senior officer for unethical behavior, 76% said the individual was subject to a financial clawback, a practice that U.S. regulators may require in some cases.
- Nearly 60% of people said collecting and analyzing data on program impact was a high priority, but only 20% improved their ability to capture and understand such metrics.
“This year’s report shows more starkly than ever before that there is a significant performance gap between organizations which are doing the minimum and those aspiring to the maximum when it comes to ethics and compliance,” said LRN senior adviser Susan Divers, a former award-winning chief ethics and compliance officer, and lead author for the report. “Given the emphasis by regulators around the world on personal accountability and rapidly emerging, highly complex risks, is it critical that boards and C-suite leaders ensure their organization’s E&C programs are well-resourced and supported.”