Chief Executive’s report — Ethics under the spotlight

Recent issues embroiling our major banks have again highlighted the crucial issue of corporate ethics and corporate culture.

Ethical leadership, ‘social licence to operate’, ‘trust deficit’: all are terms we see on an increasingly frequent basis in the media, and in speeches given by major regulators, politicians and business leaders.

Questions of ethics, corporate culture and governance have moved to centre stage, with many examples of corporate misconduct and ethical shortcomings — especially, but not exclusively, in the banking, finance and insurance sector — coming under the spotlight.

More broadly, this has contributed to a loss of trust in, and regard for, our mainstream political leaders and institutions, in big business and in other traditional sources of authority, which has help fuel the rise of political populism. Much of this goes to public perceptions of standards of ethical behaviour. It is an issue gaining more and more attention in our boardrooms and executive suites, intertwined as it is with the issue of corporate culture.

We have recently contributed to this debate with the release of the Governance Institute Ethics Index, an annual survey providing insight into public perceptions of ethical standards and corporate culture across various organisations, industry sectors and professions, as well as issues of personal ethics


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