For years, NAVEX Global has been proud to provide the industry’s best and most statistically accurate hotline benchmarking data. By analyzing anonymized data we gather through our hotline and case management solutions, we provide ethics and compliance officers with statistically significant data they can rely on for benchmarking and assessing their program’s performance and moving toward predictive risk mitigation.
We recently completed our 2015 Ethics and Compliance Hotline Benchmark Report which was based on over 730,000 reports from more than 4,600 clients. Our analysis revealed a number of notable findings—including:
Key Finding #1: Organizations May be Taking Retaliation Claims More Seriously
While there was no significant increase in overall employee reports of retaliation to company hotlines in 2014, our analysis showed that the substantiation rate for whistleblower retaliation reports jumped from a consistent 10-12 percent in prior years to 27 percent in 2014. This is a 125 percent increase.
While this increase could be an anomaly, our hope is this indicates that leaders are taking retaliation claims more seriously than they have in years past and are more aggressively investigating concerns. When we published our report last year and presented findings to groups of clients and others, we raised a red flag about the low reporting and substantiation rates in this category while there were huge numbers of retaliation cases being reported to outside agencies. We also know that the SEC Whistleblower office and other government agencies are taking these concerns quite seriously.
This is always a balancing act and it is critical that employees not be discouraged from using the hotline. That said, organizations generally could do a better job educating and supporting first and second level managers on their responsibilities when receiving concerns from employees as the hotline is often the last internal line of defense.
Report Indicates Maturing E&C Programs
While there is always work to be done on the part of leaders everywhere, the report findings overall are encouraging. It’s a promising sign that ethics and compliance programs are moving in the right direction: encouraging employees to report misconduct internally so it can be addressed. Further, as ethics and compliance programs continue to mature, these data points can be part of an organization’s overall scorecard to ensure they are effectively defining and implementing program initiatives – as well as moving toward the ultimate goal of taking proactive, rather than reactive, actions to help strengthen their organizations’ culture of ethics and respect.