Executives recognize the greatest risk of operating without ethical tech standards can have widespread negative impacts, particularly on their people, according to a survey by Deloitte, the global consulting and financial company.
Deloitte is releasing its Ethics & Trust in Technology Survey today, and this year’s survey reveals unique insight into how ethics are top of mind for enterprise executives, and how organizations struggle with alignment on who should be responsible for developing standards.
Employee impact ranks higher than other organizational risks like reputational damage, financial loss or penalties as a concern for executives.
The report said that while tech ethics are top of mind for most enterprise executives, some organizations struggle with issues like financial resource limitations and alignment on who should be responsible for developing standards.
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Executives seem to be aware of the risks of operating without standards for developing and using emerging tech, Deloitte said. And the No. 1 concern of respondents is the potential impact on their people, ahead of other organizational risks like reputational and financial losses. The report will be available on May 18 at 5 a.m. Pacific time on this link.
Leaders surveyed prioritize tech ethics within their organizations and see a role for other departments to play in decision-making. About 75% of C-Level executives surveyed say that tech ethics are extremely important to their organization.
Within responding organizations, the executive leadership team is most often responsible for ethical technology considerations (79%), followed closely by IT teams (78%). About 40% of respondents believe ethical technology considerations should also be the responsibility of operations, sourcing and procurement; sales, marketing and customer service (36%), and product development, design and testing (33%).
Executives support ethical standards, built on collaboration, for emerging technology, and 69% of executives believe that the federal government should collaborate with businesses to define ethical standards for technology.
Executives responding are divided nearly equally regarding the biggest challenge that businesses face when developing and maintaining ethical technology standards – from financial resources to speed to market. And 71% of respondents cited AI/ML as a priority for establishing ethical standards or regulations, followed by 5G (66%), AR/VR (62%) and quantum technologies (61%).
Executives reported recognizing the greatest organizational risk of operating without ethical tech standards: negative impacts on their people. Respondents recognize that a lack of ethical standards for technology can have a widespread negative impact – particularly on their people – in the form of worker turnover (60%) and worker distress (58%).
Nearly all surveyed executives believe that tech ethics are highly important to their organization.
Deloitte’s Ethics & Trust in Technology: Executive intentions and attitudes survey gauged perspectives of 200 enterprise executives about responsible decision-making related to the design, operation, and governance of the development and use of emerging technology.
It was also designed to uncover opportunities and challenges faced in developing ethical standards for emerging tech. As a result, insights from the survey can help inform a broader understanding of the ways organizations are embedding technology trust ethics into policies and practices.
The survey was conducted online by an independent research firm from March 16 to March 20, 2023. Respondents were either final decision-makers or have influence over decisions about the development and use of technology within their organizations.
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