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Memo to Managers
Anonymous Reports Are a Good Thing
Our company offers a number of avenues for employees to raise questions or concerns but you, as a manager, are always our first line of defense for your team members. An alternate resource is our company’s ethics helpline which employees can use to report either anonymously or offer their name and contact information. We support and protect anonymous reporting and, as managers, it is important for all of us to align on this point and to respect this option. Anonymous reports allow our employees to make reports that they simply may not be comfortable making in person.
We also recognize that having an anonymous report lead to an investigation in our own organization can be uncomfortable. Here are some factors and guidance for you to consider should you find yourself in this situation:
- Do not feel as though employees are going above you to report anonymously. Research has shown that historically 6 out of 10 reports coming in through the hotline and web reporting channels are made anonymously so this is not unique to you or your department.
- Supporting (and not demeaning) anonymous reports or reporters shows that you want the reporting experience to remain a safe and confidential way to make a report.
- When an anonymous report comes in through the hotline, it is imperative that you do not seek out the identity of the reporter. Maintaining the integrity of anonymous reports will allow the company to continue to receive actionable reports from all across the company.
One critical aspect of these reports – that will assist in the substantiation of anonymous reports – is advising all reporters follow-up with their report. The company has made it part of our intake process to highlight the importance of following-up, but needs your support in reminding and encouraging employees who may report anonymously to stay engaged in the process and see it through. You can do this in a group or staff meeting as part of a discussion of the overall helpline process. If you need additional information about our processes, contact the ethics office and we will be happy to assist.
We encourage all managers to embrace their role in developing the culture surrounding the use of the helpline and all of our reporting options. Consistent and positive encouragement can increase the effectiveness of these processes, and continue to make our workplace one where we are all invested in our culture.
Questions of the Month
Q: I often have employees ask me what the follow-up process is for an anonymous report. What have you seen as best practice?
A: When your employees file an anonymous report, they are given a unique ID and PIN number. Remind them to hold on to these numbers. It is important that they check back in 10-14 days after they submit their case. We recommend having them check back twice throughout the process. Often times an investigator will post questions to help gain more information. The second follow-up will allow the reporter to answer final questions if needed, or see the outcome of the case.
Q. As a manager, I suspect a manager in another department of misconduct. Rather than reporting to their manager or my own, can I just use the hotline to report what I’ve seen?
A: You are actually required to report misconduct and, in this situation, using the helpline is a good option. We will investigate your suspicions and may need to talk to you to gather additional information, but if you choose to remain anonymous no one will try to determine who you are and we will keep the information you provide to us as confidential as possible. After you make the report, if you believe you are experiencing any retaliation, you should report it as well. We take claims of retaliation seriously. Reports of retaliation will be thoroughly investigated and, if they are true, retaliators will be disciplined, up-to and including termination.
Experienced ethics officers will tell you that one of the most effective ethics and compliance program measurement tools they have is the data from their internal reporting systems. But how do you put that information into perspective so that you can report meaningful and actionable data to senior leadership and your board?
Download our 2015 Ethics and Compliance Hotline Benchmark Report shares the latest trends and benchmarking data from the NAVEX Global reporting database—the largest database of its kind in the world.
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