Ethical technology: Everyone’s responsibility

Our inaugural survey on ethical risk mitigation

Companies are constantly seeking to gain a competitive advantage from emerging tech, but these technologies are developed at breakneck speeds with little consideration of the ethical implications. This annual report dives into this topic and insights from a study conducted on how ethical principles are currently being applied to emerging tech.

Today’s business leaders have many burning questions around ethical tech. These were the ones that guided our approach to this report:

  • What do organizations define as ethical standards in technology?
  • Where do they see these trends emerging?
  • How are organizations understanding and evaluating ethical standards of technology?
  • How are they evaluating and refining their practices to adhere to meeting those standards?

This report’s findings were the product of a survey of 1,794 business and technical professionals (across 8 industries) who are actively involved in either developing, managing, or consuming emerging technologies and insights from qualitative interviews with 19 industry experts. Our findings identified a consistent theme: it is critical that companies take the lead in developing ethical frameworks, standards, and leading practices for emerging technologies. Doing so may not only enable them to avoid potential misuses and negative retribution but could also position them as competitive and socially responsible businesses.

The numbers behind the results

The hallmarks of ethical tech principles

Within our TTE practice, we have developed our own framework anchored by our principles of ethical and trustworthy tech. Those principles are ordered by their relative importance to survey respondents.

  • Safe and secure
  • Private
  • Responsible
  • Robust and reliable
  • Transparent and explainable
  • Accountable
  • Fair and impartial

Survey respondents ranked each ethical principle based on how important it was to them as an individual and how important it appeared to be to their organization. Notably, there was some discrepancy between the two attitudes. For example, the individuals revealed that they believe their organizations care more about the “responsible” quality in emerging tech than they did. But respondents believed that they were aligned with their organizations on the most important principle: safety and security.

Ultimately, we found a few key takeaways from these data points:

Companies and employees must align on ethical principles

Employees can become confused; and their own ethical beliefs can weaken if a company lacks a framework.

Principles should be co-created by companies and employees.

Once companies and employees align on principles, these principles should be co-created by companies and employees in an open and flexible spirit to help ensure adoption.

Companies need to understand how employee and consumer principles change

When new principles emerge, companies need to understand why this is happening and appropriately incorporate or at least acknowledge these changes. It shows that you’re listening.



These sets of principles provide a good foundation for governance, but since they can’t cover every conceivable scenario, companies need to use these examples as a starting point to generate their own set of ethical principles.

The path forward

While it’s challenging to implement an effective framework for technology risk mitigation, companies who ignore ethical tech issues could face damaging repercussions. But based on our findings and insights, there are steps companies can take to avoid these repercussions and set themselves up to become ethical leaders in emerging technology.

Companies that are designing, developing, and deploying emerging technologies not only have an enormous responsibility to minimize harm but also an incredible opportunity to maximize the technology’s positive potential. It is through our collective commitment and action that we can forge a trustworthy and ethical future.


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