It may only seem that many C-Suite executives fail to set the ethical bar high enough or not at all, but we now have some confirming statistics. According to a May PwC Strategy& CEO Success study of the world's 2,500 largest companies, more CEOs lost their jobs in 2018 to ethical malfeasance (39%) than poor financial performance (35%) or struggles with their board (13%). The most cited reasons for ethical lapse dismissals are more transparency, zero tolerance by boards, #metoo movement, social media and the news media chasing sensational stories. CEO turnover in 2018 was the highest in the 19-year history of the study at 17.5%.
Cultivation of an ethical corporate culture is one of the most important roles of an executive. Ethical leadership means leading by example. The days of the boards giving its C-suite executives slack is over with. Let's hope that executives learn from the mistakes of their predecessors and exercise ethical leadership.