Integrity Survey 2019

Understanding corporate misconduct

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Corporate misconduct is a serious and chronic problem that requires the close, sustained attention of senior executives, the board of directors, compliance officers and internal audit. A new KPMG survey of more than 2,300 employees from all levels within an organization and in all industry sectors provides worrying evidence of damaging, improper behavior. These results reveal a pervasive and systemic problem. This is the fifth large-scale survey conducted by KPMG in the United States since 2000 that shows consistently high levels of corporate misconduct, ranging from the bribing of foreign officials to sexual harassment.

Many companies espouse values of integrity and honesty, but how many live up to these ideals? This report explains that setting the right tone at the top is imperative, but equally as important is a culture of compliance that requires commitment, hard work, consistent processes, and rigorous training. Above all, the survey shows that a key differentiator is the presence of a formal, comprehensive ethics and compliance program. 


Main findings

The level of misconduct is shockingly high.


of respondents reported that they have personally observed misconduct in the past year

The nature of the misconduct is very serious.


reported that the misconduct they observed could cause a “significant loss of public trust if discovered.”

Most misconduct is due to internal pressure.


reported that employees feel pressure to do “whatever it takes” to meet business targets.

Employees are not reporting misconduct appropriately. 


of respondents said they would try to resolve the matter directly. 

Tone at the top matters.


of respondents did not believe that the CEO and other senior executives know what type of behaviors are taking place.



Ethics and compliance programs make a big difference.


of respondents with a comprehensive compliance program said people feel motivated to “do the right thing.”

"The high frequency of observed misconduct should be a wake-up call to the Board, senior executives, and compliance officers." 

Marc Miller, Partner, Risk & Compliance Leader, KPMG US

Understanding corporate misconduct
In pursuit of a compliance culture
Marc Miller

Marc Miller

Partner, Risk & Compliance Leader, KPMG US

+1 212-872-6916