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Singapore professionals are shunning unethical businesses

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Singapore may be the 5th least corrupt country for business, but local bosses might just lose talent if they aren’t careful in maintaining high ethical standards in their firms.

EY’s APAC Fraud Survey 2015 found that far from merely being a legal issue, ethical business practices today are directly related to attracting and retaining talent in Asia Pacific (APAC).

The survey found 80% of the APAC and Singapore respondents polled stated they would be unwilling to work for companies involved in bribery and corruption.

Out of the 90 Singaporeans polled, 70% also said they view strong reputation for ethical behaviour as a commercial advantage. The percentage was 3% higher than the APAC average, the survey revealed.

“In APAC, where the labour market is highly competitive and it is already difficult to recruit and retain staff, the findings should be a wake-up call to businesses,” said Chris Fordham, APAC managing partner of EY fraud investigation and dispute services.

He added only 5% of APAC respondents said it would make no difference to their willingness to work for an employer if it was found to have been involved in bribery and corruption

“It is essential that companies comprehensively address this via strong ethical leadership and a cohesive fraud prevention framework, with up-to-date and well-enforced internal controls, policies and procedures.”

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The survey found, however, that room for improvement still exists in companies’ efforts to combat fraud, bribery and corruption.

Almost four out of 10 (36%) of Singapore respondents stated anti-bribery/anti-corruption (ABAC) policies in their firms are irrelevant and ineffective.

In addition, 29% of locals revealed companies not providing ABAC policy training.

To make things worse, 41% and 38% of APAC and Singapore respondents respectively believed a code of conduct has little impact on how people actually behave.

EY’s research also shed light on how often professionals in the region report unethical activities in the workplace.

The majority of Singapore respondents (41%) said their colleagues who are aware of fraudulent activities in their companies do report them, while another 22% said their colleagues are not aware of fraudulent activities in their companies.

The minority 14% said their colleagues are aware of but do not report fraudulent activities, compared to 27% of APAC respondents.

Reuben Khoo, EY partner and ASEAN leader for fraud investigation and dispute services, pointed out that companies have to go beyond having the right code of conduct and policies.

He suggested a more proactive compliance monitoring programme and integrity systems where enforcements can be carried out more effectively.

Image: Shutterstock

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