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Memo to Managers
Keeping Off-Site Employees Connected With Our Organization’s Mission and Values
Everyone has heard the old adage, “the cover-up is worse than the crime.” So why do we continue to read news stories about organizations that knew—or should have known—about problems that could endanger public safety and ultimately damage their company’s reputation?
A Rash of Recalls
A rash of recent recalls among auto-makers has brought this issue to the forefront once again. Over the past few months, several manufacturers have been forced to recall thousands of vehicles, pay millions in fines and admit that they have endangered the lives of their customers.
In one of the cases, it is documented that the issue was discovered numerous times and either ignored or buried. As with most organizations in this situation, the company is already facing serious reputational damage and heightened legal risk due to an issue that was known and left unaddressed.
Could it Happen Here?
Research shows that there are two reasons why people don’t speak up or report issues: the belief that nothing will be done, and fear of retaliation. If employees at our company have these concerns then some version of the scenario described above could happen here.
So how do we prevent this and protect our good name and reputation?
Don’t ignore or cover up a problem. As this case demonstrates, it rarely turns out well. If you become aware of a problem or concern that is not addressed or appropriately resolved, it is important that you speak up. And, as a manager in our organization, you have a responsibility to take action to ensure that the right people are involved to properly investigate the situation.
Doing Your Part
To help protect our organization, our employees and our reputation, let’s all help each other to be sure to:
- Work issues to a satisfactory outcome
- Recognize inappropriate pressure and be aware of the messages you send
- Provide clear direction and make good and timely decisions
- Watch for red flags
- Hold others accountable to the same high standards, while showing respect
- Cultivate and practice good communication skills and establish an open environment where retaliation is not tolerated
- If you don’t believe the issue has been satisfactorily resolved, use another of the multiple available resources to report your concern, including the ethics hotline/helpline
- Be a great role model—do what’s right, even when it is difficult
Questions of the Month
Q: I reported an issue internally (to my manager) and nothing is being done. What should I do now?
A: It may not always be apparent when action has been taken, but it is still a good idea to follow up to be sure. If you are comfortable doing so, talk to your manager. Perhaps you could ask if any additional information is needed. You can also contact any of the other resources listed in our code of conduct, including the ethics helpline.
Q: I believe that one of my employees may be hiding something illegal but have no evidence. Is there anything I can do, as their manager?
A: If you have suspicions of illegal activity—even if you don’t have the evidence to completely back up your suspicions—you should discuss the matter with legal or ethics office. Under no circumstances should you conduct your own investigation to gather more evidence. Doing so could make it more difficult to conduct a formal investigation later, if one is needed, and it can place you and the company in a difficult position.
It's easy to lose sight of the fact that different departments (Human resources, EEO, diversity, Finance and legal) communicate with employees about compliance issues on schedules that align with their own priorities, and often use terms that are inconsistent and, in some cases, contradictory to the overall compliance message. Integrating your messages, creating consistent themes and releasing them on a schedule that's acceptable to all departments not only ensures consistency of messages but aids in increasing message retention and demonstrating the connection of issues.
Using Compliance Communicator
Equipping managers with the skills they need to navigate the E&C challenges they face is critical. Use the content in Compliance Communicator to help keep compliance top of mind with your managers and strengthen your organizational culture. NAVEX Global grants you permission to publish any or all of the content to best suit your needs.
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