Why Businesses Should Not Fear an Ethics Hotline

All businesses are ultimately accountable to someone, and often they’re accountable to more than one authority. For large multinational corporations, a business might be answerable to its shareholders, its board of directors, and to the regulators and courts in each and every country in which it operates.

For small businesses, this oversight can be more immediate. Small businesses are accountable to their constituent members, like owners and shareholders, but also to the communities in which they operate. For the small business, reputations are hard to build and easy to destroy. Further, small businesses must also answer to the same regulators as those large multinationals, too.

And while all these different organizations must be held accountable, what are they being held accountable for? Ultimately, every question of corporate accountability turns on a single issue: ethics.

Every organization that involves people requires some rules by which it is governed. In our daily lives, these rules are the laws instituted by our respective states. In the business world, these rules form corporate codes of conduct.

Businesses come by their ethics a number of ways. Sometimes, those ethics are imposed by outside authorities like government regulators. Other times, a business might recognize an area of weakness itself and institute rules so as to avoid hurting its own employees and customers and damaging its brand and reputation.

Either way–and most often both–every business has a set of ethics by which it must be held accountable.

Why Your Organization Should Institute An Ethics Hotline

A lot of business is trial and error; and, rarely in business does an entire industry agree on a method or best practice.  But, since the financial collapse of 2008 ethics hotlines have become a staple among growing, profitable organizations.

An ethics hotline allows your employees to police themselves by providing them with an easy and convenient, anonymous, source to which they can report abusive behavior. An organization that institutes a well vetted and maintained ethics hotline can identify and remedy problems before a government regulator can even get involved.

Instead of fearing what an anonymous hotline might reveal, the modern business knows that an ethics hotline can save not only its reputation, but potentially significant amounts of money lost to expensive payouts and legal fees incurred because of the abusive behavior of unmonitored employees.

Businesses should not fear the ethics hotline, they should embrace it; and in doing so shareholders, directors, and other concerned parties can expect to earn more money while sleeping just a little more soundly.