Ethical Misconduct Witnessed by Almost a Third of Workers

October 19, 2005 ( - Thirty one percent of US workers have witnessed coworkers engage in ethical misconduct, according to the Hudson ethics in the workplace survey

A Hudson news release said that only 52% of those who witness unethical or illegal acts reported it to a superior, though.

Seventy eight percent of all respondents said their companies clearly communicate what is considered ethical and unethical in the workplace. Of those who have witnessed illegal or unethical behavior, 68% say their company clearly communicates ethical standards.

Likewise, 74% of total workers surveyed said their senior leaders generally act with honesty and integrity, while only 61% of those who have witnessed unethical behavior believe so.

For themselves, 53% of workers said they rarely or never encounter ethical gray areas, while 14% said they do once a month and 28% do occasionally. Twenty five percent of workers who have witnessed unethical behavior, though, said they encounter ethical gray areas once a month.

In addition, according to the release, the Hudson survey found:

  • Government workers are more likely than their entrepreneurial and private enterprise counterparts to report that they have seen coworkers engage in unethical or illegal behavior (38% compared to 29% and 31%, respectively).
  • On average, those making less than $40,000 annually are less likely to feel their company’s leadership behaves with honesty and integrity – 65% compared to 74% nationally.
  • Men under the age of 40 and African-American workers have witnessed significantly more ethical misconduct by co-workers (42% and 36% respectively).
  • Only a quarter (26%) workers over age 50 have witnessed unethical behavior, and nearly eight in ten (77%) believe that their leaders behave with honesty and integrity.

The Hudson ethics in the workplace survey is based on a national poll of 2,099 US workers and was compiled by Rasmussen Reports, LLC, an independent research firm. A more detailed data report is available at .