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Monday, 7 November 2011

st. paul's institute - value & values: perceptions of ethics in the city today

the report (dated october 2011) by the St. Paul's Institute uses results from a survey by ComRes of 515 professionals working in the financial sector in london online between 30th august and 12th september 2011 

(picture from wikipedia - some 200,000 work in the city in finance, insurance and professional services with another 60,000 or so @ Canary Wharf).

interestingly the report makes the point that it is possible to overstate the significance of Big Bang in moral terms, citing the example of the guinness scandal (share price manipulation) which happened pre Big Bang.  the comment is made that the City has always been prone to the assumption of invulnerability among practitioners which has led to the breakdown of a moral code from time to time: clever people can always break whatever rules are in existence if they put the acquisition of money ahead of everything else.

the report can be downloaded from here. some headlines taken from the report are below.

- 79% of city professionals did not know the motto of the London Stock Exchange – “my word is my bond” and most are not aware of earlier recessions in the UK around 1980 and 1990/91;

- 28% have not had professional experience of working in the sector during a recession before 2008;

- around 2/3rds think those in the financial sector are overpaid and about the same declare that salary and bonuses are their principal motivating factor in the work environment;

- on the effect of wealth on moral attitudes there is roughly a 3-way split between those who think it has no effect (the largest group), those that think it has a negative effect and those that think it has a positive effect;

- respondents support deregulation yet believe it contributes to declining ethical standards whilst thinking the companies they work for maintain high ethical standards which accord with their own, and that maintaining ethical standards is not inconsistent with maximising shareholder value;

- yet the maximising of shareholder value seems to require deregulation, and deregulation (the same community believes) has a negative effect on people’s tendency to behave ethically;

- there is a large measure of support for the proposition that there is too large a gap between rich and poor, though this support declines when faced with the practical suggestion of investment in deprived communities;

- there is also a widely held view among respondents that their sector is not sufficiently valued in society at large;

- the financial sector is more atheistic, or at any rate a less pro-God, community than is the case in the society at large but even in the face of that there are still a 3rd of respondents who profess belief;

- so the overwhelming majority who do not agree with the proposition that the City should listen more to the guidance of the Church will include a significant number who do believe in God.

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