The financial services sector is perceived as being in the lower half of the ethical spectrum compared to other industries according to the Governance Institute’s 2021 Ethics Index, with its ‘ethical score’ placing it above only the resources sector, large corporations and… media.

The index, now in its sixth year, gauges the Australian adult population’s perception of ethics and the level of ethical behaviour within Australian society through a series of surveys.

Across sectors, the health industry is perceived as the most ethical in Australia with a net ethical score or 72, similar to its leading score of 73 in 2020. Education came next (62) followed by charities and NFPs (51) and agriculture (51).

Banking, finance and insurance had a net score of 4, while resources (2), large corporations (-5) and media (-17) rounded out the bottom of the table.

“Within this sector accountants are seen to be most ethical… and mortgage brokers seen as least ethical”, the index notes. “Pay day lenders continue to be seen as the least ethical organisation [while] life insurance companies also decreased in ethical scores.”

Thrity-eight per cent of people rated the financial services industry as either “somewhat unethical” or “very unethical”. Twenty per cent said it was “neither unethical nor ethical” and 42 per cent said it was either “somewhat ethical” or “very ethical”.

The media sector saw the biggest perceived decrease in ethics this year, its score of -17 far worse than the -3 it registered in 2020.

Forty-nine per cent of respondents rated the media as either “somewhat unethical” or “very unethical”, while nineteen per cent said it was “neither unethical nor ethical” and 32 per cent said it was either “somewhat ethical” or “very ethical”.

Source: Governance Institute of Australia Ethics Index 2021
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