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How Important is Business Ethics in America?

How Important is Business Ethics in America?

FBI White Collar Crime Prosecutions Over the Last 20 Years

Source: http://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/crim/331/


Traditionally, when the common American worker was considering working for a company they considered factors such as salary, benefits such as a pension, and/or upward mobility within the company. In today’s economy there is a new trend that is changing the way workers consider a place they might work and its not just the Google style lounge areas, but instead the ethical reputation of the company itself. This trend is putting into question whether the American business culture once portrayed in the movie Wall Street, with the slogan “greed is good”, is changing.


As detailed in a recent Forbes article, for both employers and employees the question of whether a company or candidate is qualified ethically is becoming more and more important in decision-making. The article cites a Bentley University study, which found that “86 percent of millennials consider it a main priority to work for a business that conducts itself ethically and responsibly”. The article concludes by asserting that employers are making companies ethical reputation more and more important in their decisions and companies to be competitive to these candidates are amplifying their ethical practices and the way they are transparent about these practices. While it is clear that ethical reputations are becoming more important question, it is also important to explore whether American companies are actually becoming more ethical in their behavior.


The graph above shows that over the roughly last two decades prosecutions of white collar crimes by the FBI have dropped almost in half. Specifically, after considerable high levels of prosecutions through the 90’s and early 2000’s, there is a sharp decrease in prosecutions. This may be due to several legislative reforms passed after scandals such as the Enron collapse. Given this information, some may argue that America is becoming in a sense better at behaving ethically in business. However, many Americans could still argue that American business still don’t often act ethically and point to cases such as Wells Fargo and their scandal involving the creation of multiple bank accounts. According to Brandon Gaille, one of the top marketing podcasters in the country, the average U.S. company suffers loses of roughly “6% of its total annual revenue due to white collar crime committed by its own employees.” With all this information it can be hard to decipher if American corporations really are starting to act more ethically or simply appearing to look more ethical from the outside.


While there is no clear and concise answer to whether American companies and workers are becoming more ethical in their behavior, it is clear that workers and companies are having to become more transparent about behavior in an age where any story can go viral. Transparency as well as stronger regulations may be causing Americans to act more ethically, but only time will tell what the true trend in American business is.


Post by, Kyle Banks, September 13, 2017


Original Story, How Much Do A Company’s Ethics Matter In The Modern Professional Climate? – Forbes

Link to the Article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/larryalton/2017/09/12/how-much-do-a-companys-ethics-matter-in-the-modern-professional-climate/#1013d3fa1c79


Brandon Gaille White Collar Crime Statistics: https://brandongaille.com/34-surprising-white-collar-crimes-statistics/

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