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Real estate viewed more positively after the events of 2020

Real estate agents have improved their net score when it comes to how people perceive their conduct, with the industry jumping 21 per cent in the ethics index over the past year.

This year, the Governance Institute of Australia’s Ethics Index found sentiment for real estate agents improved on years gone by, with real estate agents scoring -2, compared to -27 in 2016, -24 in 2018, and -21 in 2019.

The study went on to note Western Australian agents are viewed the most positively with a current net score of 8, while Victorian agents are at 3, NSW agents sit at -1, South Australian agents at -6, and Queensland agents have the lowest net score at -11.

According to the index, real estate agents have continuously ranked as the third lowest ethical index profession since 2016.

Previously, they have been positioned above state politicians and federal politicians who have vied for least ethical position. This year, real estate agents continue to rank above federal politicians (-3), while directors of foreign companies have moved into the bottom three to be considered the least ethical at -4.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, emergency services and health professionals rank the most highly. Fire services are currently in poll position with a net ranking of 82, followed by general practitioners and ambulance workers (80 each), and nurses 79.

The Governance Institute of Australia’s Ethics Index 2020 surveys 1000 people’s attitudes to ethical conduct across society, and reveals the nation’s overall ethical rating soared to a score of 52, up from 37 in 2019. 

It is Australia’s highest overall ethical rating in the five years since the study began.

Governance Institute CEO Megan Motto said Australians see our society as more ethical now than they did 12 months ago.

“It seems that a year of hardship, in which co-operation, trust and transparency have become paramount, has changed our perceptions around how we function as a society,” Ms Motto said.

While continuing to operate at a ‘somewhat ethical’ level, Australia is now at the top end of the category and significantly closer to operating as ‘very ethical’ (which requires an Ethics Index Score between 60-100).

As corporate crises and inquiries dominate the headlines in late 2020 and tough decisions continue to be made as a result of the pandemic, Ms Motto said organisations at all levels need to put a firm spotlight on ethics.

“Ethics matter, in business and in society. Our survey shows that the perception of the finance industry in Australia is still recovering from the banking royal commission and other scandals, and the media is suffering the same crisis of legitimacy here as overseas,” Ms Motto said.

“These perceptions have consequences, and our leaders need to get to work addressing them.”

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Thérèse Murray

Therese Murray is a Senior in house journalist with Elite Agent with experience across a wide range of titles.