How To Build Good Governance, Even If You Suck At Building Stuff

Posted by Amanda Nieweler

on March 24, 2016

governanceGood governance includes removing ourselves from the likes of “tattle-tailing”, “narcing”, and “ratting”!

It’s time to embrace whistleblowing!

Historically, there have been countless examples of organizations taking a “hear no evil” approach to whistleblower complaints. These complaints, ‘affectionately’ known as “tattle-tailing” or “ratting”, were (and still are in many cases) perceived to be a serious threat to a productive culture based on the trust of your fellow employee.

You can liken it to a professional sports team that protects each other in order to beat the opposition at any cost. Win as a team, lose as a team. Loyalty toward co-workers and the company is considered a very valuable attribute. But here is where the thinking is skewed. Many think loyalty is covering up misconduct to order to help grow revenue, or win the deal.

This is so far from the truth of what loyalty is.

Here is where this type of loyalty has landed many companies and employees: negative press exposure, lost jobs, major fines, covering your face when you go out in public…

We constantly see cases of ethical violations in the workplace that have exposed huge financial and reputational losses to small and large companies alike. Billions of dollars have been lost to fraud, theft, bribery, and many other forms of misconduct. In many of these cases there was a witness who didn’t speak up. Or felt that if they did they would be on the receiving end of very odd looks from fellow co-workers!

Regulators and governments world-wide have introduced requirements for companies (for-profit, and non-profit) to retain an independent, third-party resource to provide portals through which employees and others can raise concerns. These resources help protect those raising concerns from retaliation by providing anonymity if required.

If you’re still too scared to call them whistleblowing systems, then we’ll call them ethics reporting systems if that makes you feel better. And they need to allow for full disclosure.

Why do we need an ethics reporting system? Good question. Check out this eBook to find out why!

When used correctly they promote ethical behavior and integrity among employees while also providing management with a system to understand and investigate potential problems before they have serious consequences.

The thought of any form of retaliation is often enough to deter reporting of misconduct. But, where trust is HIGH and the perception of management and peers is POSITIVE, retaliation is far less prevalent.

Hotlines and the policies around them are designed to support a culture of integrity, empower employees, and improve moral. Anti-retaliation policies encourage the use of ethics reporting systems, and reinforce management’s commitment to transparency.

How to build good governance, even if you suck at using a hammer and nails!

When sources of fraud, corruption, and other nasty stuff is uncovered through an early warning system, management can discover evidence of activities that may threaten or impede compliance with laws, rules, regulations and standards related to their company’s operations. They can eliminate waste, loss, theft, and shelter their company from costly litigation.

See? You just built good governance!

Whistleblower systems (a’hem we mean ethics reporting systems) encourage proper conduct and provide a process that, when implemented and properly maintained, will assist in efforts to reinforce predetermined and acceptable ethical behaviors. They increase employee morale by giving them a voice.

The key to a successful system is to ensure honest, transparent and authentic communication. Empower employees through inclusion, dialog and interaction.

As an added bonus, you’ll receive increased employee satisfaction, employee retention, trend analysis and reduced insurance cost. All things that lend themselves to a more valuable organization.

We see the following concerns on a regular basis: theft, fraud, bribery, compliance regulations, waste of product, misconduct, mismanagement, misuse of authority, sexual harassment, health issues, safety concerns, intelligence gathering, and other yucky stuff nobody wants to hear about.

But you need to hear about it. How else are you going to fix it?

Ethics reporting systems whether hotline, email or web based, are an important way for organizations to capture concerns from employees and others about the way a business is operating.

In an ideal business environment, employees would be prepared to openly raise concerns about any issues with their managers. In the real world people worry about retaliation (in its many forms) or being labelled as a snitch. Often, people are simply not sure if what they are witnessing is actually something that they should bring to management’s attention. Whistleblowing, when managed correctly, provides a confidential and safe way for people to communicate these concerns.

The most efficient systems enable on-going dialog with the person raising the concern, while maintaining their anonymity. The process of receiving a complaint or concern through the whistleblowing system needs to address a number of things including how concerns will be documented and recorded, and ensuring that the person receiving such calls is fully trained and equipped to respond appropriately. There also needs to be an effective evaluation and screening process for each concern raised via the system.

Remember, you can still build good governance even if you suck at building stuff.

Here’s a few more reasons to implement an ethics reporting system… pre-built so you don’t have to panic.

eBook: 7 Reasons to Implement a Whistleblower Hotline