Least ethical occupations revealed

Australia’s banking, finance and insurance sector is home to the least ethical occupations in Australia, say respondents to the Governance Institute of Australia’s annual Ethics Index.

Now in its fourth year, this year’s index found that Australian society is operating at a “somewhat ethical” level.

Ambulance workers, nurses and fire services workers are the three most ethical occupations, say 1000 people from various political and socio-economic backgrounds who were asked about their perceptions of ethical issues and conduct.

The worst performing occupations were in the banking, finance and insurance sector, with almost half of those surveyed saying the sector was unethical, 38 per cent saying mortgage brokers were unethical, 36 per cent saying fund managers were unethical and 35 per cent saying that financial planners were unethical.

“The banking and finance sector continues to suffer from credibility issues following the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry,” said Governance Institute of Australia chief Megan Motto. “One in two people now rate the sector either ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ unethical.”

While the banking royal commission lifted the lid on badly behaved banks and exposed many in the finance sector, it wasn’t enough to change perceptions of politicians, with two of the top five worst performing occupations being federal and state politicians.

The third worst were real estate agents, followed by directors of foreign companies operating in Australia and then local politicians.

Around 62 per cent say the ABC is the most ethical media platform, while Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were given unethical ratings to the tune of 49 per cent, 39 per cent and 36 per cent respectively.

The education sector was perceived as the most ethical, and all health sector occupations were rated at least 60 per cent ethical, except for funeral directors.

The most ethical occupations, according to Australians were:

1. Ambulance services

2. Nurses

3. Fire services

4. GPs

5. Veterinarians

6. Primary school teachers

7. Pharmacists

8. Secondary school teachers

9. Dentists

10. Ancillary service providers

The least ethical occupations were:

1. Federal politicians

2. State politicians

3. Real estate agents

4. Directors of foreign companies operating in Australia

5. Local politicians

6. Aged care directors and executive management

7. Mortgage brokers

8. Senior executives

9. Fund managers

10. Lawyers

Climate change was viewed as the most ethically difficult issue for Australians to tackle.

However, nine in 10 Australians want the government to take action on climate change regardless of the impact on profits and job losses.

The report also found that 53 per cent of people believe Australia has an urgent ethical obligation to transition to renewable energy.

“For the past four years, the Governance Institute’s Ethics Index has provided invaluable insights across a wide range of ethical issues, including Australians perceptions of job types and industries,” said Ms Motto.

“We’ve been struck by the clear and compelling message from this year’s index for business leaders and the government – that more Australians now regard climate change as an urgent ethical obligation.”

Which do you think is the least ethical occupation?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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