One in five Irish employees would be prepared to pay a bribe or act unethically if they knew it would lead to a pay rise — while almost half of Irish employees believe corruption is widespread, a survey has found.
The EY survey on fraud surveyed more than 4,000 employees in 41 countries, including 100 in Ireland.
It found 17% would make a cash payment to help a business survive and 22% would act unethically to improve their own career progression or pay.
Almost half of Irish respondents believe bribery and corrupt practices are widespread in Ireland, which is significantly higher than the Western European average of 33%, the survey found.
The number of employees hearing senior management talk about the importance of maintaining high ethical standards was down from 34% to 28% compared to the last study two years ago.
Julie Fenton, head of EY fraud investigation, said the research shows bribery and corrupt practices remain significant risks.
“It also highlights why it’s so important that senior management are alert to the potential unethical decisions that may be made by employees when they are under pressure to meet targets, hide errors or advance their own careers,” she said.
Ms Fenton said it is “a business imperative” that training be put in place for employees to understand the implications of their actions during times of pressure, and that they understand the consequences of behaving unethically — both for the company and personally.
Irish employees are loathe to allow their company monitor their personal data, even if it helped detect fraud, the survey found.
Three in five said that monitoring of their social media profiles would be a violation, as well as monitoring telephone calls. Monitoring emails and instant messenger services was unacceptable to half of respondents.
Just 28% of Irish employees believe regulation had a positive impact on ethical standards in their company. More than half had considered resigning after feeling their integrity was compromised.
Ms Fenton said: “It’s critical that the tone is set from the top, with senior managers leading by example. Companies need to actively start fostering a culture whereby employees feel encouraged to come forward to report misconduct and that they will be protected if they do.”
The employees surveyed included those in financial services, government and public sector, technology, retail, and wholesale.
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