This week, the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE) and the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA) released the findings from their 2014 Helpline Calls and Incident Reports Whistleblower survey. The survey was distributed to both the SCCE and HCCA’s databases. Respondents included compliance and ethics professionals from both publicly traded and private corporations. Overall, when the results between the SCCE/HCCA survey are compared with NAVEX Global’s own analysis of the largest database of reported incidents in the world, we see similar results—a positive sign.
Hotline/Helpline Reporting Levels Remain Steady
In the SCCE/HCCA survey, 51 percent of respondents reported that their hotline/helpline reporting has stayed about the same over the most recent two years. This is consistent with data from the NAVEX Global 2014 Ethics and Compliance Hotline Benchmark Report for the past two years; however our data shows that reporting levels have increased substantially over the past four years, showing a 33 percent increase since 2009.
Fifty-eight percent of respondents to the SCCE/HCCA survey also stated that the volume of reports coming in from all sources had increased over the last two years. The NAVEX Global report confirms this data as well. We reported that clients who utilized their hotline and case management system to track all methods of report submission (open door reports, email, fax, etc.) saw an increased level of reporting –a median reporting level of 1.4 reports per 100 employees, in fact. These statistics are encouraging as they can reflect growing employee trust in the reporting process, as well as a better utilization of the tools provided by ethics and compliance departments.
Anonymous reporting has always been a hot topic for ethics and compliance professionals. We do not believe that anonymous reporting is an issue, however, as discussed previously. In fact, we believe the opposite–anonymous reports are important as indicated by substantiation rate of anonymous reports, as revealed by both our research and the SCCE/HCCA survey results. It is important to ensure that employees are using their ability to report anonymous responsibly. By this we mean that employees need to understand that they have an obligation to report meaningful issues, stay involved and check back for questions in the requested time frames.
The anonymous reporting levels from NAVEX Global 2014 Ethics and Compliance Hotline Benchmark Report reflect a steady decrease in anonymous reporting over the past five years. In 2013, 60 percent of reports coming in to the hotline/helpline were reported anonymously; this is down from 65 percent in 2009. In concert, data from the SCCE/HCCA survey shows that 82 percent of respondents said that their anonymous reporting level has either stayed about the same or decreased over the most recent two years.
The SCCE and HCCA survey also looked at the substantiation rates of anonymous reports. They found that 59 percent of respondents felt their substantiated anonymous reporting levels were about the same as those who gave their name, or somewhat lower. Our own research shows that, in 2013, anonymous reports were substantiated at a rate nine percent less than named reporters. Looking over a five year span, the anonymous reports are substantiated at an average rate of 5.8 percent less than named reports.
Trends from Research Results Show Progress
The similarities between the two research pieces is encouraging, as it further substantiates that ethics and compliance professionals are taking a more hands on approach to understanding their hotline/helpline data overall. Hotline/helpline data that is carefully tracked, reviewed, benchmarked and presented with sufficient context often provides the early warning signs needed to detect, prevent and resolve problems. On a broader scale, it can provide valuable information to support program decisions in concert with other data points.