Research has shown that the vast majority of companies’ ethics hotlines are not utilized effectively by employees due to fear of retaliation. Why is that? What is the process of following up with a complaint? What scares one’s people from doing so?
When it comes right down to it, shouldn’t organizations want its people to report any ethics/compliances issues? Reporting them would be a reflection of the values that an organization has trained its people to believe in, communicated, and expect values based behavior in the workplace. Why then does a system fail when it comes to actually behaving by those values?
Can an organization oversee itself? If organizations took their values seriously, they would be rewarding those who report violations of the core values on which a company says it is based. In fact, the term ”whistleblower” would never be used, because it is negative in connotation. Instead, how about a term like “values advocates?” Why has a value advocated? Because these employees were trained in your company’s values and taught to incorporate them into their work. Then, if a situation arises, they report behaviors that challenge those very values and ethics in which they were trained. These behaviors routinely have a negative effect on morale, work relationships and the workplace environment. Values advocates should be rewarded not punished.
- Design a system for overseeing the reporting of ethical/compliance violations.
- Create a process that will make all involved in investigating an issue accountable and responsible for the process and resolution.
- Find the proper reward, not punishment, for those who report violations.
- Any leader who violates the sacred trust of confidentiality, anonymity, and retaliates is terminated.
This isn’t that difficult. Do you believe in your values or not? Is ethics important or not? What lengths should you go to protect those who live those values for the betterment of all?