Latest string of brand apologies confirms it—corporate integrity is dying

by | Jun 4, 2018 | Public Relations

The majority of working-age Americans believe that integrity is on the decline in Corporate America. According to a new survey from management consulting firm Eagle Hill Consulting, 54 percent of respondents say that integrity has gotten worse among companies during the past five years.

Tellingly, the research found that the integrity decline starts at the top—only 15 percent say that corporate executives have the most integrity in the workplace, while 49 percent say that their lower-ranking colleagues have the most integrity.

“Without a foundation of integrity, a company is at risk,” said Melissa Jezior, Eagle Hill’s president and chief executive officer, in a news release. “Integrity is the cornerstone of how employees make decisions, act and react in ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. When a company’s integrity is in question, the negative impacts on earnings, customer retention and employee morale can be devastating. ”

The telltale signs are all around us

After a string of reputation-damaging scandals, Uber recently rolled out television advertisements from its new CEO promising a new corporate culture and that the company will always do the right thing. Last month, Facebook apologized before Congress for failing to protect user data. And, Wells Fargo has launched a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign to earn back trust following a massive fake accounts scandal.

“But, there is an upside. The integrity implosion is an opportunity for all companies to pause and take a hard look at their culture and values. Given the polling results, every company now should be confronting culture. This means conducting culture audits, carefully hiring only those people aligned with your culture, and closely examining whether company leaders are setting the culture and values example and held accountable for problems,” Jezior said.

Americans report a widespread decline in integrity:

Latest string of apologies confirms it—corporate integrity is dying

Culture and values are the heart and soul of any organization. When leaders and employees understand, embrace and live those values every minute at work, the result will be an organization that consistently delivers on its mission and goals,” Jezior explained.

The polling also revealed that:

  • The corporate integrity implosion is part of a larger phenomenon
    Some seventy percent of Americans say that integrity is falling across the nation. Three-fourths (75 percent) also say that integrity is on the decline among government institutions.
  • The overwhelming majority of Americans believe corporations and executive leadership might do something unethical
    Some 87 percent say that corporations might do something unethical while nearly three-fourths (74 percent) say executive leadership might do something ethically questionable.
  • Most people witness unethical behavior at work, but few report it
    Nearly half (48 percent) of the American workforce has seen someone do something unethical at work. Yet, only 28 percent have reported unethical behaviors at their workplace.
    The integrity gap at work:

Latest string of apologies confirms it—corporate integrity is dying

  • Most Americans have more trust in their colleagues than in their bosses or in executive leadership
    More than half (54 percent) “most trust” their colleagues, compared to their boss or executive leadership, which is five times higher than “most trust” their executive leadership (11 percent) and more than they “most trust” their boss (35 percent).

    Why workers don’t report unethical behavior:

Latest string of apologies confirms it—corporate integrity is dying

Download the new Eagle Hill polling analysis, The Corporate Integrity Implosion, here.

The Eagle Hill Corporate Culture survey was conducted by Ipsos in April 2018, and it included 1,506 interviews across the U.S. adult working population across the nation. The survey polled respondents on issues of culture, specifically integrity, respect, trust and unethical behavior in the workplace. The results were weighted to reflect U.S. demographic factors, including the four national census regions, age, income, and gender.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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