A code of ethics is the foundation of an organization’s “ethical architecture,” although it takes a variety of operational practices to support it. An ethics hotline is an example of an operational practice that has a huge beneficial impact in helping an organization increase its chances of catching and reducing fraud and ethical misconduct.
Consequently, it should be no surprise that reportedly 82% of organizations worldwide have a code of ethics, rising to 93% of large organizations (those with over 5,000 employees). It’s a little surprising, however, that only 59% of organizations overall (although 83% large firms) offer a hotline to help employees report ethical concerns. Still, this is up from a reported 49% in 2012 (Barman, 2015).
If your organization is in the 59% category, you know that for ethics hotlines to be effective, they must be used. And, for hotlines to be used, employee awareness must stay high. Therefore, it’s important to keep promoting the hotline frequently and in various creative ways throughout the year. Following is a list of things you can do to promote your hotline, as compiled from various sources:
- Create a message and a logo to promote your hotline, mapped to your organization’s culture.
- Discuss the hotline’s history, purpose, and effectiveness in training and new employee orientation materials.
- Include the hotline logo and URL link and phone on all internal web pages or department websites.
- Add the hotline logo, URL link, and toll-free phone number to the back of business cards.
- Forward the hotline information to company personnel.
- Schedule the CEO and other leaders to promote the hotline.
- Give employees small items embossed with the hotline contact information–pens, pencils, refrigerator magnets, and other items that can be taken home (employees often feel more comfortable contacting the hotline from home; make it easy).
- Offer puzzles, games, and contests throughout the year; make them interactive.
- Consider broadening the scope of the hotline—give employees multiple reasons to use it, such as for process improvement and cost-savings suggestions.
- Do it all over again.
Organizations that incorporate various communications methods and tools to boost employee awareness of ethics hotlines will very likely see sustained use of the hotline, which will in turn improve the likelihood of spotting and dealing with ethical misconduct sooner rather than later.
With Ethical Advocate’s ethics hotline, persons desiring to report incidents, indiscretions, or suggestions via a hotline can do so securely, 24/7/365, with privacy and anonymity, on the Internet in 17 languages, or through its Call Center in 200 languages. Please contact us for more information.
Barman, Tanya. Managing Responsible Business 2015 Edition: The Ethical Challenges Organisations Must Navigate to Succeed in a Connected World, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, 2015. http://www.cgma.org/Resources/Reports/DownloadableDocuments/2015-07-21-Managing-Responsible-Business.pdf