Enron300

The poster image for the play Enron by Lucy Prebble which chronicles the collapse of the scandal ridden company. Enron is still the byword for major corporate scandal at the highest levels.

The stresses and strains of meeting short term targets are prompting business people to compromise organisational and personal ethics, the CIPD is warning. In a new survey of 3,500 business leaders, and 2,200 HR practitioners, in the UK, USA, Asia, Middle East and North Africa, 30 percent of business leaders said they would choose to continue rewarding high-performing individuals regardless of the values they demonstrate, a key precursor to past financial tribulations.

Just one in four financial leaders said they are ‘always’ prepared to make short-term sacrifices to protect the long-term interest of people, organisations and society. At the same time nine out of ten respondents claimed that they would protect the long-term organisational health and reputation of the firm when under pressure.

Of the HR professionals interviewed, a third said that they have had to compromise their personal principles to meet the needs of the business, while 29 percent of business leaders felt that they have had to do the same.

A not entirely slender 21 percent of HR managers said they ignore their personal ethics because they affect their ability to succeed in their organisation, and less than half of respondents said their core values cannot be compromised whatever the context.

This disputable take on ethics was also echoed when leader’s treatment of the views of staff members was considered. Three quarters of business leaders surveyed said that employees’ ability to influence decisions that affect them was ‘nice to have but not imperative,.

“Far too many business and HR leaders continue to be focused on the short-term at the expense of the long-term interests of the organisation and its people,” Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said of the findings.

“This risks unintended consequences when people try to cut corners or maximise short-term returns without thinking about the consequences of their actions on all their stakeholders, which includes employees, customers, suppliers, and communities.”