Current best ethics practices dictate that all employees are free to report harassment, conflicts of interest and other ethical dilemmas. Learn how to best implement this important procedure!
The Raising and Resolving Ethical Issues portion of the ethics training program encourages employee involvement and feedback in the process of reporting violations of the corporate code of conduct, or any unethical practice. Companies that are fully compliant with their ethics compliance program offer a point of contact in which these situations can be reported to, whether it be a human resources office or a toll free number, where they may remain anonymous.
The purpose of reporting is two-fold: foremost, it puts employees at ease when an unethical situation must be reported, and it becomes an integral cornerstone in the company’s overall corporate compliance program, by proving its willingness to eliminate any potential or current practices deemed to be unethical. It is also in a company’s best interest to encourage reporting, to reduce the chances of a catastrophe in which a whistle blower releases negative public relations through legal or media venues, to expose a company for illegal or unethical activities.
In the implementation of ethics training, raising and resolving ethical issues should conclude the training program, as it ties together previous lessons learned; such as acknowledgment of the code of conduct, ethical decision-making, and other niche ethics topics.
Participants of an ethics training program are always encouraged to consult their designated contact – such as manager, human resources representative, or ethics hotline in times when they need to discuss an ethics-related issue or report a violation of the code of conduct. Teaching the consultation process should generally include the following factors:
As previously mentioned, workplace retaliation is an illegal practice in which a person accused of a violation or harassment retaliates against the person that accused them. Retaliation can span actions from demotion of the accuser’s current title, salary, position or working area, verbal or physical abuse, or any action deemed to be threatening or uncomfortable. Layoffs due to reporting fall into this category as well. Retaliation also occurs when others are threatened not to participate in a reporting process. The US Supreme Court deemed employer retaliation to be illegal.
Workplace retaliation consequences are not exclusive to managers only, as co-workers guilty of retaliating against those who have reported him or her for unethical practice are equally as wrong.
When an employee is involved in any kind of investigation, either as the person who started the process or is a participant of one, they must keep the situation confidential to all others in their office environment. Ethics trainees should be reminded that beyond this being a violation of corporate policy, it is also is a legal process. In cases where a co-worker has expressed doubt about reporting a violation they’ve witnessed or experienced, that co-worker should speak to their human resources or ethics representative about their concern for that co-worker. Finally, the investigative process always remains completely confidential, even to the person who initially started the report. They will only become involved when necessary.