ethics deficit
n. The amount by which a person‘s actions or principles fall short of some ethical standard or ideal.

Example Citation:
With four state energy officials facing stiff fines because they did not require consultants to divulge their ties to power companies, Secretary of State Bill Jones charged that Gov. Gray Davis' administration has an "ethics deficit."
—Mark Martin, "Energy aides face fines over consultant disclosure rule," The San Francisco Chronicle, January 8, 2002

Earliest Citation:
The survey found no clear agreement on what was meant by business ethics, and a low level of understanding of the subject. Never mind — what matters, they think, is for business to be seen as ethical. They are not sure that it is, though. The survey calls this "a significant ethics deficit".
—"Ethics questions tie 'em in knots," The Daily Telegraph, July 15, 1993

Related Words:

Category: