The Anatomical Make-Up Of A Third-Party Ethics Reporting System

Posted by Amanda Nieweler

on September 29, 2016

blog_legoWhat exactly does a third-party ethics reporting system look like anyway?

And what on earth does it do?

We’ve had these questions asked of us a few times.

And they are valid questions. You’ve heard of it, but what exactly is it?

What’s involved?

We’ll drill it down in a nutshell. But give you enough information to walk away and say “ah, now I get it!”

All companies, regardless of size or industry, can benefit from implementing ethics reporting into their workplace.

The implementation of an ethics reporting system provides support and credibility to a company’s Code of Ethics.

Employees may know, in theory, that they can go to a manager to report on an ethical concern they have. However, they may not actually feel comfortable doing so.

A third-party system allows them to come forward anonymously to report concerns.

The logistics behind a third-party reporting service are completely removed from the client company. This means no staffing, no dealing with technical issues, and no extra costs and time taken to manage the program and system.

Here’s the nutshell version:

  • 24 x 7 x 365 access to a live answer multilingual ethics hotline and proprietary case management tool.
  • 5 engagement options for reporters: hotline, web portal, custom email, regular mail, and fax.
  • Sensitive reporting allows re-routing of reports should a member of management be implicated.
  • Instant notification when a report has been filed.
  • Case aging prevention logic sends follow up notification if reports have not been checked within specified time periods.
  • Ability to communicate with employees directly to gather more information while protecting their identity.
  • Audit trail capabilities demonstrate all appropriate processes and protocols are followed.
  • Powerful data analysis capabilities allow the proactive identification of trends before they become a problem.
  • Custom program materials help communicate the program.
  • Training for all employees and management.
  • Policy reviews and updates.

Get more information on internal vs. outsourced ethics hotlines

Global hotline: most companies do not have the capacity to operate an in-house ethics reporting hotline with translation abilities. A company run ‘hotline number’ is really just another doorway into management’s voicemail box. Employees aren’t likely to use it.

A third-party run hotline services all languages found around the globe, as well as utilizing highly trained and empathetic agents, who will know how to ensure the comfort and safety of the person calling in. It’s operated 24/7/356 so there’s no being put on hold, and no leaving a voicemail because management has left for the day. And the caller has the ability to report their concern in their native tongue.

Your company HR department more than likely does not have the capacity to answer a caller in Arabic, or Urdu.

Secure, yet powerful online platform: no matter how a report comes in from an employee to a third-party provider, all reports are input into a secure, cloud service, or SaaS platform.

A third-party provider is responsible for all the work that goes into maintenance, updates, and other important issues like patch fixes, data hosting (including global regulations), and emergency preparedness and data backup protocol. This has already been built, tested, and approved.

A third-party provider has already built a robust program that allows for multiple forms of anonymity, report taking, file uploading, anonymous communication between the reporter and the company, data logs, and more.

To build this from scratch would cost a company time, effort, lots of research on global requirements, and not to mention money.

Why build a program from scratch when you can have one already built and ready to use?

Training and support: a third-party service provider has already done all the research, homework, and work involved in putting together communication, training, and other knowledge to help clients get their system off the ground without any issues. It’s already been put together, saving companies time and effort and giving them everything they need to get their program fully implemented.

The question then remains, do you outsource, or take the time build in-house? Download this eBook to get a better sense of what’s best for your company.

eBook: Whistleblower Hotlines: Internal vs. External