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Corporate India Staring At An Integrity Crisis Amid Pandemic: EY Report

A total of 63 per cent said they would indulge in some form of unethical conduct (ignore misconduct, falsify information, financial or customer records, pay or accept bribes) to improve their own career progression, a stark contrast to just 24 per cent globally.

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An upsurge in incidents of fraud, high tolerance toward unethical conduct, and diminishing integrity standards threaten to disrupt corporate India, as per EY’s Global Integrity Report 2022. 

 The report named 'Tunnel vision or the bigger picture' revealed that 33 per cent of the respondents in India comprising senior management and boards said that their organisation has experienced significant fraud in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak. Here, India ranked second among 54 countries surveyed. 

A total of 63 per cent said they would indulge in some form of unethical conduct (ignore misconduct, falsify information, financial or customer records, pay or accept bribes) to improve their own career progression, a stark contrast to just 24 per cent globally.

Apart from that, 37 per cent said that standards of integrity have either stayed the same or worsened over the last 18 months and 52 per cent said that unethical behaviour is often tolerated when seniors or high performers are involved, higher than global figures (33 per cent), as per the report. 

“The pandemic’s aftershock and subsequent economic crunch have aggravated organizational challenges of working with integrity in times of crises. Management and Boards will have to lead by example, inspire an ethical culture, foster transparency, utilize technology and strengthen compliance, whistleblowing and environmental, social and governance (ESG) frameworks. Acting now will be key to setting up an enterprise that makes strides in the right direction and delivers on societal expectations as well," said India and Global Markets Leader, Forensic & Integrity Services at EY, Arpinder Singh. 

The report highlighted the perspective of over 4700 business executives across 54 countries and territories. In India, 100 executives were surveyed, comprising senior management and board members, on the post pandemic challenges faced, a widening gap between lowering integrity standards but higher levels of awareness, and creating the optimal environment for integrity to thrive. 

About 59 per cent respondents said  that there are managers in their organization who would sacrifice integrity for short-term financial gain, compared to 43 per cent.  globally. 53 per cent said it is easy to bypass the standard business rules and processes in their organisation. 51 per cent expressed concerns about misconduct that they did not report, higher than 30 per cent  globally.