I invited Kenneth Kendrick, who has experience of whistle-blowing, for his views on how companies should communicate their openness to such reporting on their corporate websites. Kenneth is looking for work at the moment: he’s open to various types of work, but is looking for quality assurance or advocacy work. If you can help, you can contact him by email.
How to get employees to report unethical practices before your business suffers
Known as the ‘Whistleblower’ for Peanut Corp on Texas I have had extensive discussions with others in the same predicament. Reporting an ethical, or any, violation can destroy both your career and personal life, as it did mine.
Most people I have talked to—and I agree with them—say that having a company policy and procedure in place will make it more likely that your front line employees will keep you abreast of what is happening.
Most whistleblowers affirm that a third party company handling the complaints makes it easier for them to make a report, especially for a smaller business where employees would have a stronger fear of their reports coming back to haunt them. In a larger organization, where the call is likely to go to someone who has no idea of who an employee may be, this can still be effective.
Employees must also understand that they may be one of only a few people who know about a violation, and thus they will be suspected no matter what mode of reporting they use. Any good company policy will have a contact name to report retaliation at the top levels of the organization.
When it comes to your company’s website, this information should be easily accessible, with both an email format and phone number for reporting violations, and for reporting retaliation. Some people are more comfortable speaking, and some writing.
Giving each report a number or code, so that an employee can follow up is essential to making your workers feel that these reports are not being ignored.
Above all else, as we all too often hear, it is the company culture that will dictate open communication. If someone can speak freely about such concerns with immediate supervisors without fear, problems can be solved quickly, but having a hotline on your website still shows that the organization means what it says.
Policies and procedures should strongly emphasize your commitment to open communication without fear of retaliation. Any link on your site that shows how an employee can report a violation, should also have a link to the companies policy and procedure on these issues.