Reasons to Implement a Whistleblower Hotline
No organization wants to wake up to find itself suddenly exposed to an unexpected liability or unwelcome scrutiny. That vulnerability is more significant with the increase in occupational fraud stimulated by today’s tough economy. Resources are stretched and revenues are shrinking – the losses from abuse and fraud are just too great to ignore.
Fraud costs everyone more if it’s ignored. No organization is immune to fraudulent or unethical behaviour, and no organization can afford the costly consequences. And beyond the direct financial impact, organizations can face regulatory violations or noncompliance issues. Public organizations face penalties for failing to meet SEC obligations, and non-profit entities could face the loss of government funding.
There are plenty of reasons for implementing an anonymous, third-party hotline. Whistleblowers want to know where to go, how to avoid supervisors, and that they can remain anonymous. An anonymous hotline removes many of the obstacles to reporting inappropriate behaviour and gives employees, suppliers, and vendors the ability to raise genuine concerns about illegal or unethical behaviour. As well, they reduce the risk of individuals going elsewhere with their concerns, potentially damaging an organization’s reputation and causing further financial harm.
A whistleblower hotline should…
- Encourage employees to bring knowledge of ethical and legal violations to an internal authority so that action can be taken immediately to resolve the problem.
- Be accessible organization wide, including availability to vendors and suppliers. It’s not just employees who observe misconduct.
- Meet regulatory requirements – specifically applicable to publicly traded organizations.
- Have an option to provide anonymity to anyone wishing to report concerns.
- Minimize the organization’s exposure to the damage that can occur when employees circumvent internal mechanisms.
- Be cost-effective and live 24/7/365.
- Let employees and stakeholders know the organization is serious about adherence to codes of conduct…and serious about them!