Ethics Index


After record highs last year, our perception of Australia as an ethical society has fallen in 2021 with drops recorded in the latest Ethics Index across most industries, occupations and sectors.

The Ethics Index has recorded an Ethics Index Score of 45 this year, down from the five-year high of 52 in 2020. 

Key issues covered in Ethics Index 2021 include:

  • COVID-19 and the ethics of lockdowns, vaccinations, and the return to the office
  • The most – and least – ethical occupations and sectors 
  • Corruption, influence and executive pay: Top ethical issues for corporate Australia
  • What next? The biggest ethical challenge in the next 12 months.

Download the report

Read the media release

Governance Institute CEO Megan Motto said the two pandemic years have prompted their own distinct set of ethical challenges, responses - and results.

“This year has been a tumultuous and anxious locked down year for many with a greater lack of certainty. It seems this is reflected in a dip in the latest Ethics Index which has dropped to 45.” 

Media enquiries

Our CEO Megan Motto is available to discuss the Ethics Index findings.

To request an interview, please email

Key media clips

Publication Title Date

The Sydney Morning Herald
Brisbane Times
The Age
WA Today

The rapid rise and fall of trust during a pandemic


Ticker TV news How have people’s perception of Australia as an ethical society changed? 17/11/21
Lawyers Weekly Lawyers or politicians: Which profession is perceived as more ethical? 17/11/21
Professional Planner Financial services scores low on ethics index, media scores lower 17/11/21
The West Australian CEO salaries above $600,000 perceived as unethical, new poll finds 17/11/21
The Medical Republic Is this your sign to go into politics? 17/11/21
Minter Ellison (Still) time for business to prioritise ethics: The Governance Institute has released its latest annual Ethics Index 17/11/21
Real Estate Business New ethics index places agents near bottom of the pile 18/11/21
FS Sustainability CEO pay disparity seen as unethical: Governance Institute 18/11/21
Accountants Daily Ethical scoreboard in: Where do accountants stack up? 19/11/21
ABC Radio: 

Governance Institute of Australia's CEO, Megan Motto, speaks with ABC Radio about the 2021 Ethics Index.

Build your organisation’s ethics skills

Governance Institute regularly offers a half-day course on 'Ethics, culture and governance' in face-to-face and virtual formats.

REGISTER FOR short course

About Ethics Index 2021

  • Annual survey, now in its sixth year, examining perceptions of ethical issues and conduct in Australian society.
  • Survey carried out across a nationally representative sample (n=1,000) from 10-20 September 2021 and weighted according to age, gender and location.
  • The research is conducted by Ipsos and conceived, designed and commissioned by C3 Content Pty Ltd.

View previous Ethics Index results

About Governance Institute of Australia

  • A national membership association, advocating for a community of more than 43,000 governance and risk management professionals from the listed, unlisted and not-for profit sectors.
  • Our mission is to drive better governance in all organisations, which will in turn create a stronger, better society.

Want to make a difference?

We listen to our members and advocate their views through policy reform.

Have your say!