Majority of companies in favour of linking bonuses to ethics

More than two-thirds of companies are in favour of linking staff bonuses to ethical behaviour, although only one in five currently practice it, a survey has found.

The 2008 European Corporate Integrity Survey, which surveyed 100 senior managers of the largest publicly listed companies in Europe, found 21% of companies currently connected awareness of ethical actions and practices with employees’ salaries and bonuses, with 68% happy to follow suit.

“In last year’s research, respondents supported the view that ethical behaviour often stands in opposition to individual and company gain,” said Paul Basson, president of Integrity Interactive Europe, which conducted the survey. “Making ethical behaviour ‘pay’ removes any potential conflict of interest.”

Almost nine in 10 companies have in place or have almost completed a formal code of conduct, although only 57% made it mandatory for all their staff to be trained on the code of conduct.

The survey also showed that companies increasingly expected suppliers to comply with their code of ethics, with up to 70% of companies now contractually obliging suppliers to do so.

“Many heavily regulated companies do not focus on creating an ethical culture,” said Basson. “Ethical behaviour is doing the right thing because you know it to be so, as opposed to compliant behaviour, which is playing by the rules.”

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