Leading Ethics Research Organization Wants Social Networkers to Provide Insight & Questions

January 9, 2012

Arlington, VA- Just Days After the National Business Ethics Survey® Makes Headlines with New Findings on Social Networking in the Workplace, the Ethics Resource Center (ERC) Goes to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ & LinkedIn to Get the Next Round of Questions from Active Social Networkers

New Developments:

  • The Ethics Resource Center (ERC) wants to build on the new findings from the latest edition of the National Business Ethics Survey®, which was just released last Thursday.  The ERC is asking active social networkers to submit suggested questions for the next round of ERC research.
  • The ERC would like to include five to ten questions submitted by people who are friends, followers, or connections with the ERC to build on the information the organization has already gathered on social networkers.
  • “The research results indicate active social networkers are a very unique group and they are having an enormous impact on workplace ethics,” said ERC President Patricia J. Harned Ph.D.  “Their attitudes and actions are different from every other demographic group we looked at, including millennials.  We want to build on the information we’ve found in the 2011 NBES.  By getting questions from social networkers, we think we can dig deeper in future surveys and research.”

The new information on social networkers from the NBES research includes:

  • Active social networkers are far more likely to experience pressure to compromise standards (42 percent vs. 11 percent) and to experience retaliation for reporting misconduct (56 percent vs. 18 percent) than co-workers who are less involved with social networking.
  • Active users of social networks are much more likely than non-networking culleagues to accept behaviors that have traditionally been considered to be “questionable” or marginal behaviors (e.g., keeping copies of confidential work documents for use in a future job, personal use of the company credit card, taking home company software).
  • Many active social networkers indicated a willingnesswillingness to publicly share less than flattering information about their workplace and culleagues.
  • Corporations may not have fully explored the opportunities offered by active social networkers. Active social networkers are somewhat more likely to use social networks to say positive things about their company and co-workers, rather than to post negative feelings. Fifty-six percent say they would post about the good things co-workers do, compared to 45 percent who say they would post about culleagues’ annoying habits. Fifty-seven percent of the active users would post comments about good things their company does.

Other Report Findings:

  • Several key indicators reveal that American businesses may be on the cusp of larger, downward ethical shift. While corporate misconduct is at a historic low and reporting is at an all-time high, retaliation against whistleblowers and pressure on employees to compromise their ethical standards are at or near all-time highs. In addition, ethical business cultures are at their weakest point since 2000.
  • Confidence in senior leadership fell to 62 percent, matching the historic low established in 2000 and down six percentage points from 2009. One third of employees (34 percent) say their managers do not display ethical behavior, up from 24 percent in 2009 and the highest percentage ever.
  • Employees are also less confident in their own ability to handle ethics situations. The percentage of employees who say they are prepared to handle situations that invite misconduct fell from 86 percent in 2009 to 77 percent in 2011.

Useful Links:

News Coverage:

More from Dr. Harned:

  • “It appears that as people become more accustomed to sharing information that was once considered to be ‘private’ across social networks, the tolerance level for questionable behavior in the workplace has increased. ERC will continue to monitor behaviors of those who actively use social networking to determine how these individuals impact the broader ethical cultures of their places of employment.”

Posts Up on ERC’s Social Networking Sites Now:

  • Facebook & Google+:  The Ethics Resource Center wants your help with the next research on active social networkers.  We’re asking our “friends, followers, connections, and circles” to help create the next round of questions on the ethics of active social networkers.  Please send us your questions via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn. 
  • Twitter:  The next round of questions on social networking in the workplace could come from you. 
  • LinkedIn:  Our research has shed new light on social networking in the workplace.  Find out how you can help drive the discussion in the next round of research.

 About the Ethics Resource Center:

The Ethics Resource Center (ERC) is America’s oldest nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and the advancement of high ethical standards and practices in public and private institutions. Since 1922, ERC has been a resource for public and private institutions committed to a strong ethical culture. ERC’s expertise informs the public dialogue on ethics and ethical behavior. ERC researchers analyze current and emerging issues and produce new ideas and benchmarks that matter — for the public trust.