Some companies are built and operated entirely online. And with the reduced in-person contact or environmental concerns that come with on-premises working, sometimes these business owners presume they may not have a relevant need for an ethics hotline.
However, even eCommerce and digital-based enterprises have risks and responsibilities that can be exploited. If you’ve been contemplating and on the fence about adopting an ethics hotline for your virtual company, here is a roster of reasons why you should consider implementing one.
1. Digital Misuse of Funds
Even in digital ecosystems, funds can be misused. And company leadership may not always be aware of such financial transactions. Having an ethics hotline means anyone who spots suspicious behavior can report concerns anonymously.
2. Virtual Bribery Happens
With so many new ways of communicating online, it’s hard to keep track of all the company conversations taking place. Promoting the use of an ethics hotline means anyone who becomes aware of discreet online engagements whereby bribery or kickbacks are taking place can report it.
3. Company Theft of Information
You can have remote employees sign all the non-disclosure agreements in the world and still become the victim of company information theft. Any proprietary information from services, products, and inside mechanisms can be misused and mishandled. If anything, those digital-based companies have more data to protect than traditional brick-and-mortar organizations.
4. Violations of Privacy or Company Policies
Your virtual company may have necessary guidelines in place for privacy or other organizational policies. Violations of those policies could be detrimental to your operation. Having an ethics hotline in place can help reduce these risks because incidents may be more readily reported, allowing you to quickly address and remedy them.
5. Improper Use of Data Happens More Than You Think
Employees are generally good and eager to perform their jobs well. But there are countless opportunities for missteps involving company data, even inadvertently. Using company software for personal use or accidentally sharing company analytics with a vendor, for example, can all lead to bigger, more costly issues if not immediately reported.
6. Exploitation of Client-Facing Data
Depending on your company’s core offerings, you might have a collection of client-facing data for which you are responsible for protecting. Sharing client contact information, client sensitive data, and client problems with outside individuals can, at best, cause you to lose clients. At its worst, you could end up in court. An ethics hotline supporting your client data management policies can be an added layer of protection.
7. Falsification of Documents Can Happen in a Click
How hard would it be for someone to nab a corporate document from a shared drive and make alterations? If you’re not sure, you could be at risk for the falsification of documents. From internal HR documents and personnel files to accounting software, there are risks to minimize. An ethics hotline can help ensure any alarming document altering is quickly reported.
8. Harassment Can Happen Online
Even if your contractors or employees are thousands of miles apart from each other physically, it doesn’t mean there can’t be instances of harassment or abuse. Online bullying and unwanted advancements happen more often than you think. And victims of such behavior need an outlet for anonymous and confidential reporting. Any unchecked harassment will lead to turnover, a soured company culture, even online, and potential lawsuits.
If you’re ready to set up an ethics hotline for your eCommerce or digital-based business, let Ethical Advocate help! We can ensure your data, policies, and remote workforce can benefit from these and every other benefit that comes with implementing an ethics hotline.