Sixty-six per cent of Canadian executives surveyed believe a cyber attack is the biggest risk to their business, reveals the 15th EY Global Fraud Survey released May 31. This is far higher than the global average of 37 per cent.

"Recent high-profile data breaches and concerns over online privacy are creating new risks for Canadian businesses," says Zain Raheel, EY Canada Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services Leader. "Ongoing cybersecurity threats point to a critical need for rigorous and focused incident response plans to detect potential breaches and help minimize the occurrence of attacks."

Employee integrity

The fraud survey also showed that Canadian respondents recognize the importance of integrity among their employees, “but little to no clarity exists as to who in the company is responsible for ensuring employees behave.” Sixty-two percent of Canadian executives say management is primarily responsible for ensuring integrity among employees, followed by individual responsibility at 24 per cent and HR at just 8 per cent.

The survey results show that “Canadian executives are failing to uphold corporate integrity,” says EY. While 80 per cent of respondents agreed there are clear penalties for violating company policies, only 46 per cent could point to employees who have been penalized for breaching them, says the report.

Stringent compliance measures

"There is a great opportunity for companies to demonstrate that they are living their values by enforcing corporate integrity and implementing stringent compliance measures," says Raheel. "Lack of enforcement, coupled with vague policies, sets the precedent that unethical behaviour may continue without consequences."

Questioned on the benefits of demonstrating integrity, public perception was ranked highest by Canadian executives at 76 per cent, followed by customer perception at 62 per cent. Successful business performance hovered at 46 per cent, which is significantly lower than the North American average of 70 per cent (and the global average of 59 per cent), observes EY.

Investment in anti-corruption and cyber capabilities

"Canadian companies don't necessarily see the clear connection of how integrity can impact the bottom line," says Raheel. "Understanding the connection between integrity and business success is crucial to building the case for investment in anti-corruption and cyber capabilities – especially as many businesses prioritize their digital agenda through the rapid adoption of disruptive technologies and advanced analytics."

To learn more, consult the report on EY’s website.