There are some ethics violations that company officials are keen to quickly identify. But it’s important to remember that ethics violations can present in a variety of ways across a host of company departments and completely online, too. To make sure your teams are not missing potential risks, we’ve compiled a roster of ethics violation examples that may not be on your radar but should be.
1. Discrimination and Harassment
These tend to be more common violations that companies monitor for ongoing. But it’s the definitions that may cause some instances of discrimination and harassment to go unnoticed. More obvious violation examples include employees bullying, making outward advances, or denying promotions. But discrimination can also include comments about another person’s appearance or insensitive remarks about someone’s age. There should be ethics definitions in place that clearly outline any instance of impropriety, not just those that are blatant or obvious.
2. Releasing Proprietary Information
Your business model might be responsible for maintaining proprietary information or processes. It could be that your company collects customer data or deals with sensitive metrics. Company officials should always be looking out for potential risks associated with releasing these sensitive materials. Most violations are accidental or inadvertent, but they can be purposeful, as well. But the leaking of assets or data could result in steep fines, data breaches, and costly lawsuits if not caught sooner.
3. Safety Violations
Those companies routinely following OSHA safety regulations tend to prioritize safety processes. But others, with office settings or remote teams, may not be overly watchful of safety enforcement. However, it’s highly recommended that every business has a well-communicated safety policy in place. Workman’s compensation claims can arise from carpal tunnel symptoms, too much screen time, too much drive time, and poor posture at a desk for too long.
4. Financial Violations
Depending on the nature of your organization and operations, you might not be overly concerned about fraud related to financial transactions. Sure, banking and lending institutions, retail, and restaurants will usually have theft of funds top of mind. But other service-based businesses, like plumbing companies or cleaning companies, might forget to check those financial logs and processes. Anytime money or company assets are accessible to staff or are unprotected from hackers, there could be significant risks.
5. High Profile Violation Examples
There are some high-profile reminders about some violations that can occur in any business model. Enron, for example, experienced significant accounting fraud that went undetected long before it was reported. Dennis Kozlowski, formerly of Tyco, went to prison for using corporate funds for personal use. And Conrad Black of Hollinger, Inc. went to prison for wire fraud. And these stories all serve as a reminder that even executive-level personnel can be responsible for ethics violations. It should reinforce your processes for accountability to make sure ethics policies reach every layer of your company.
If you’re looking to tighten up your ethics policies and enforce reminders among your staff about reporting and accountability, consider adding an ethics hotline to help. These anonymous channels for reporting will be instrumental in managing your process ongoing. And Ethical Advocate can be your partner in developing, managing, and improving how you oversee your company’s ethics.