Surprising news from the Harvard Business Review suggests that bad behavior does pay off after all – if you're a man, anyway. The Daily Stat reports:

Although companies have focused greater attention on the need for ethical practices over the past few decades, male business professionals who self-report high ethical character earn, on average, 3.4% less than their peers who don't report having such standards, according to an analysis of data on thousands of students by Andrew Hussey of the University of Memphis. Moreover, men who reported that their MBA programs enhanced their ethical standards received 6.5% lower wages than men who reported no such gain.

Interestingly, there was no wage penalty found for conscientious women:

Female professionals who self-report high ethical standards receive no pay penalty, and women who said that their schooling had raised their standards received a premium averaging 5.5%.

One possible interpretation of the results is that men aren't held to the same ethical standards as women, or are somehow able to "get away" with more bad behavior. Another possibility is that women may be less inclined toward risky behavior at work. Less-ethical women might be less likely to attend MBA programs (all the subjects in the study were MBA degree holders). Regardless, it's good to know that there's no wage penalty for women who play nicely – maybe their good habits will rub off on the misbehaving boys, and inspire more confidence in the stand-up men in the business world.