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If Your Boss Asks You to Do Something Unethical, Would You Do it? "Cut-throat competition and performance pressure at workplaces are the two key factors of millennials behaving unethically at workplaces"

By Komal Nathani

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


"The boss is always right," a popular saying that most of us have heard growing up. Climbing up the corporate ladder is a tough task. In current times of instant success, millenials are looking to brim the instant coffee for that instant promotion.

What has this rat race resulted in?

A revelation by American insurance company Aflac-led survey states millennials feel more pressurised to act unethically at workplaces.

Most consumers revealed that they were asked to do something unethical by their employer. And, a major number of millennials admitted to actually complying with the requests.

Entrepreneur India conducted a social media poll to know if professionals were willing to do something unethical if their bosses would ask them. Within 24 hours, 200 responses on social media platforms showed 80% of professionals wouldn't do it while 11% said 'may be' and 9% said 'yes'.

A chat with some youngsters who are pursuing careers at world's top companies on how they aim to behave when encountered with such a situation tells us more into the problem.

'Yes' or 'No'

An alumnus of NIT-Bhopal, Prakhar Awasthi who now works with an IT giant in Hyderabad, said, "I have never received any instruction to do any unethical work from my senior authority at any point of time. But if ever I would come across this situation, the easiest way to deal with it would be to say NO.

Awasthi marked cut-throat competition and performance pressure at workplaces as the two key factors when asked about the reason of millennials behaving unethically at workplaces.

"Everyone is in race to succeed earlier than his/her colleague and if they fail, there is always someone or other to replace them. So the fear of not being able to make a good impression makes people do unethical things to get the work done," he asserted.

Fears of Millennials with Job

26 year-old, Ankita Mishra who is a software engineer, told Entrepreneur India that she has been a victim of an unreasonable request of her boss.

"The best way to deal with it is to complain about it to the HR Department or senior authorities in the company's hierarchy, advised Ankita. On being asked what makes them millennials comply with the unethical requests by bosses, Mishra said that usually freshers comply with the bosses as they fear for losing their jobs.

Catherine Hernandez-Blades, VP of Corporate Communications at Aflac mentioned the same viewpoint in her quotes in survey that how millennials are younger and less secure when it comes to jobs, which lead them to make questionable decisions.

Hernandez- Blades said, "Millennials are very ethics-conscious, but as they climb the corporate ladder, they feel pressured to not disappoint in a very competitive arena."

Importance of Value Education

Considering the 19% of consumers who said that they have behaved unethically at work, whether they were asked to by their employer or not, Entrepreneur India talked to the Director and Professor of Marketing, IMS, Urvashi Makkar on the behavioral tendency of GenX.

Makkar assertively said that she cannot attribute one reason behind lack of ethics in millennials, there are certainly many. Marking some key factors like lack of value education, right parenting and lack of regard for education have made the young individuals this way. "Education today has become a barter system for some of the students and their parents, as they think in exchange of money they can get degrees and jobs anywhere they want," said Makkar.

Today's adults have their proven mindsets, which gets firmer with time. Makkar quipped that value-oriented education can resolve this issue.

Komal Nathani

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

A firm believer of hard work and patience. Love to cover stories that hold a potential to change the momentum of business world. Currently, a part of all-women web team of Entrepreneur’s Asia Pacific edition to jig the wheel of business journalism!

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