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5 Reasons Executives Aren't Good People


4. They're unethical

There were few big fans of large-scale financial institutions immediately after the financial crisis, but the executives steering the institutions that weathered the storm didn't do much to change people's minds.

A study released last year by the Economist Intelligence Unit titled A Crisis of Culture: Valuing Ethics and Knowledge in Financial Services found that a whole bunch of executives in the financial services industry didn't see much to gain by conducting their business ethically.

Although 91% of those surveyed placed equal importance on ethical behavior and financial success, more than half (53%) think advancing their career would be difficult without being flexible on ethical standards. Only 37% believe their firms performance would improve if employees acted in a more ethical manner.

While 97% of of those same executives feel qualified to handle their job -- and 67% have raised awareness of the importance of ethics at their firms -- 62% of financial executives admit they care very little about what goes on in departments beyond their own. That alone should set off alarms, but many of those same execs think their own departments are an ethical breach waiting to happen.

A full 60% of financial executives say gaps in their employees' knowledge of ethics is a significant risk for their firm. Meanwhile, 59% of financial executives agree improving knowledge of the industry as a whole would help make their firm more resilient, though 12% say they are confident in their knowledge of global regulations.

While it may be a leap to apply these findings more broadly to other industries, it's somewhat less of a stretch to say that executives having an ethical coin-toss with the world's financial system is enough cause for concern.

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