Third of finance workers ‘pushed to act unethically’

Nearly a third of finance professionals in Yorkshire feel pressured to comprise their ethical standards, a professional body has warned.

Tanya Barman, head of ethics at CIMA

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants said workers felt increasingly pushed towards unethical behaviour in the last three years.

In 2012, a fifth (18 per cent) of professionals said they had been pressured to make unethical decisions; in 2015, this jumped to 30 per cent.

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The results of CIMA’s annual survey suggested a perception of institutional acceptance of irresponsible behaviour.

More than a fifth (21 per cent) said people who reported concerns of unethical behaviour were earmarked as “troublemakers” by management.

UK finance professionals said the main causes of pressure to compromise ethical business conduct were working with colleagues from different areas of the organisation, meeting reporting deadlines and working with partners internationally.

Tanya Barman, head of ethics at CIMA, said profit and ethics “are not two opposing aims”.

She said: “A responsible and well-run business is more likely to survive in the long-term.

“However, our latest Managing Responsible Business report shows that many finance professionals in Yorkshire are facing pressure to condone poor practice of their colleagues or to behave unethically themselves.

“The report highlights that we are still struggling to work our way through a crisis of culture within business, and we need to maintain our focus.”

Ms Barman added: “A lost reputation can destroy a business overnight.

“To guard against this, organisations in Yorkshire need to collect and interpret information about ethical performance, so the company can tell when it’s on the right track and when it’s about to walk off a cliff-edge.”

The report, which interviewed 2,498 professionals internationally, also highlighted human rights abuse as a business issue of increasing concern, with 68 per cent of workers believing it to be an issue of relevance, up 13 percentage points from 2008.

Despite growing awareness, just 13 per cent of organisations reported having conducted due diligence on human rights when entering new contracts.