Communication key to upholding ethics, says IoIC

Monday, 23 September 2013 00:51 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Two-way trust and open channels between leaders and employees are vital for fostering ethical cultures in organisations, survey reveals
By Jermaine Haughton Leaders who influence employees’ behaviour by communicating examples of sound conduct are key to creating sustainable ethical cultures in their organisations, according to new research from the Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC). All respondents said that leading by example was one of the most crucial parts of their workplaces, with 5% rating it as important, and 95% as very important. Staff pointed to a culture of “transparency, openness and honesty” as the second most significant quality for organisations to have – with 14% saying it was important and 84% very important. Meanwhile, promoting two-way communication as a vital means of creating a principled working environment was rated as either important of very important by 96% of respondents. However, challenges remain with translating that sense of importance into tangible effects. Just over a third (34%) of respondents categorised employees’ level of trust in their leaders as “neutral”, while others said it was low (24%) or very low (4%) – reflecting the difficulties many leaders face in gaining employee trust. In particular, the survey showed that leaders in the public sector find it hard to receive trust and respect from employees, with 60% of public sector respondents saying levels were low or very low (40% and 20% respectively), compared to 21% in the private sector (20% low; 1% very low). Potential solutions also emerged from the survey, with strong ratings recorded for the importance of “helping leaders understand and fulfil their communication responsibilities” and “supporting leaders/managers in projecting themselves as open, honest and 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 among these are leaders seen to behave in an authentic fashion, who communicate effectively and encourage open, honest, two-way communication.” He added: “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.” – See more at: (This article has been shared with the courtesy of CMI UK Sri Lanka branch from the Professional Manager magazine. CMI UK is the only Chartered professional body for the function of management. For membership please write to [email protected] and the website for more details.)