Don’t Be Afraid To Use Your Company’s Ethics Hotline

Posted by Amanda Nieweler

on August 9, 2016

Don't Be Afraid To Use Your Company's Ethics HotlineThe ethics hotline is there for a very good reason

You’ve witnessed verbal or physical abuse at your work.

You think a manager and an employee are getting a wee bit too close.

Your very limited financial knowledge is leaving you with questions about the current revenue… you know something is off.

What do you do if you happen to come across something questionable? Your gut tells you something is wrong, but you feel you don’t have enough knowledge or information to actually let anybody know it’s happening.

You kind of feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. You want to do good for your company but you also don’t want to be called out.

It’s often hard to know what would be considered misconduct and when (and if) you should be filing a report.

Your first clue will be in your company’s Code of Ethics. There should be a bit of guidance here on types of behaviour your company places on the naughty list.

If you think the behaviour you are witnessing is on the naughty list, this is your cue to speak up and use your company’s ethics hotline.

A third-party ethics reporting hotline and case management system allows employees to anonymously and confidentially file a whistleblower report. Then allows management to quickly investigate and remedy a potential issue that could very well be the butt of a few late night TV comedy jokes.

Alright, here’s a few examples of what most companies would place on their naughty list. If you see any of these, use your ethics hotline without fear:

Conflict of Interest:
It’s a conflict between the private interests and the official responsibilities of a person in a position of trust. If a relative or close friend reports to a supervisor who affects their job responsibilities, pay and/or promotions, report it!

Fraud/Embezzlement:
It’s willfully withholding assets for the purpose of using them for personal gain. If you see an ’employee’ name on the payroll and you swear you’ve never met that person (because you’re a social butterfly and have met everyone) it’s probably a phantom employee. Best to report it!

Workplace Health and Safety:
It’s a concern with the health, safety, and welfare of people who work at your company – including vendors, customers, etc. If you see an EXIT that is obstructed, or pointy bits sticking out of machine parts that could impale unsuspecting passersby, this is potentially a huge issue. You need to reporting it!

Privacy:
It’s disclosing personal information against a person or company that is not public concern or interest. So if in passing an employee’s spouse makes mention of the new (secret) product you’re about to launch and you’re the one who’s responsible for the company ‘surprise’ party launch (and you’re pretty sure the ‘surprise’ launch didn’t already happen), this means that someone has let the cat out of the bag that shouldn’t have blabbed. It’s a big problem and you need to report it!

These are just a few examples. The message is to use your gut and common sense. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. And if you’re unsure, your company’s Code of Ethics should provide some guidance.

And if you do report something and it turns out to be false, that’s okay too. This might be an instance of updating the ethics policy to reflect the ever changing company.

Want more ideas? Download an eBook that lists a few examples of what many employees report when blowing the whistle.

Case Type Examples