Initial findings from the Ethics Barometer’s inaugural survey discovered that the majority of respondents thought it important that their organisations behaved ethically and that ethical values are widely shared across groupings. Pogrund pointed out that this is particularly important in a society as polarised as South Africa.
However, only 30% of respondents who said they had witnessed ethical misconduct, including discrimination, bending of the rules to reach targets and tolerance of bullying and intimidation, said they would report these breaches, either out of fear of victimisation or because they didn’t believe their company would take any action. Both reasons demonstrate a lack of trust, Pogrund said.
Nyembezi said that whistleblowers are often vilified, and company leadership and boards should strive to make it easier for employees to report wrongdoing. “We have to move the needle so as to create the kind of workplace where people’s values are not at odds with those of their management teams. It is true that boards and leadership live in an echo chamber and they have to be intentional about creating safe spaces for people to speak up,” she added.