Report: Retaliation breeds misconduct and kills morale

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August 2, 2010

Arlington, VA – Fear of retaliation for speaking up about ethical violations in the workplace not only affects whether workers are willing to report wrongdoing to management, it drives the level of misconduct itself, according to a new study released today by the Ethics Resource Center.

Employees who report misconduct in a company with zero tolerance for retaliation experience it at a strikingly lower rate than workers at companies with weak ethical environments (4 percent versus 25 percent), the study found. And victims of retaliation trust the company’s leaders less, feel less optimistic about the company’s financial future, tend to think the head of the company is overpaid and look to quit the company sooner.

Likewise, where workers feel pressured to compromise company standards, policy or the law, those who report misconduct are much more likely to experience retaliation (59 percent) than those who report but do not feel pressure (6 percent).

"This report demonstrates just how toxic the fear of retaliation can be in an organization,” said Ann Wootton, President and General Manager, SAI Global Compliance Americas, which sponsored publication of the report.

ERC Report -- Retaliation: The Cost To Your Company And Its Employees

Press release on ERC website