Our ethics and political leanings are a part of who we are, and a new survey reveals that oftentimes those beliefs spill over into the workplace.
Aflac (AFL) conducted a study, which measured how often people behave unethically at work. The insurance company also took a look at how outspoken companies should be when it comes to political issues.
The most startling revelation (or maybe not so surprising) is that millennials feel more pressure to act unethically. In fact, 25% of all consumers revealed that they were asked to do something unethical by their employer. From this group, 47% of millennials admit to actually complying with the requests. This compares to just 36% of all other generations.
“Millennials are very ethics-conscious, but as they climb the corporate ladder, they feel pressured to not disappoint in a very competitive arena,” said Catherine Hernandez-Blades, VP of Corporate Communications at Aflac. “This was a very interesting finding, given that millennials are also the group that is most likely to conduct business or invest in companies known for social responsibility.”
In other words, millennials are younger, and less secure, leading them to possibly make questionable decisions.
Overall, 19% of consumers say that they have behaved unethically at work, whether they were asked to by their employer or not.
Politics in the workplace
In today’s bipartisan, Twitter-fueled world, politics has infiltrated almost every part of our lives. In the last couple of months, we’ve seen major corporations risk consumer loyalty by speaking out against the Trump administration on a bevy of issues. Google signed a letter asking Trump to stay in the Paris agreement, Amazon spoke out against the travel ban to Muslim majority countries, and Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier left Trump’s Business Advisory Council after the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va.
In the survey, Aflac found that 77% of consumers and 74% of investment professionals agree that a company has to step up on issues that matter to people if they want to be known as a leader. Going further, 52% of consumers and 61% of investment professionals actually expect companies to speak out on controversial topics.
Still, even consumers aren’t exactly sure where politics and business converge. Even though more than half of people think companies should speak out, 58% of consumers and 69% of investment professionals also agreed with the statement, “Companies should stick to their business and avoid politics.” Talk about mixed messages.
If a company doesn’t want to speak out, there are some other consumer-approved ways to take action. Fifty-seven percent of respondents say donating to a group that works on an issue makes a company more responsible, and 53% agree that starting a nonprofit to advocate for its position on an issue is also an effective way to ignite change.
“We use this information to not only gauge where Aflac stands with consumers and investors, but also what is expected of corporate citizens,” said Hernandez-Blades
The study was done in conjunction with FleishmanHillard, a PR and marketing agency, which surveyed 1,001 Americans at least 18 years old from June 2-13.
Brittany is a reporter at Yahoo Finance.