Keeping solid records is the cornerstone for any company. Government regulations require some companies to retain specific data and industry standards and International Standards Organization (ISO) recommend best practices. Add in ethics programs and whistleblower initiatives and those requirements grow. The process doesn’t have to be overly complex. There are three areas to identify before recording your information.
- Determine what information you are required to record
- Select protection software to protect your information
- Organize your database for easy evaluation and comparison
The first step is determining what you need to record. This could simply be complainant’s information, violator, and the complaint details. Businesses should also protect the information from unauthorized access within the company and from hackers. Data should also be organized in a fashion that allows investigators to analyze trends.
Choose The Correct Information To Retain
Choosing the correct information to retain is one of the most difficult steps. Our first thought is to protect the company and keep everything on record. Government agencies don’t require companies to maintain paper records for all grievances or complaints. The Paperwork Reduction Act allows agencies to maintain electronic copies. Keep an electronic facsimile of all hardcopy documents in the file but also summarize the information for in-house investigators. Here are a few examples of what to keep:
- Copy of the actual complaint
- Supporting documents
- Investigators notes
- Final actions
Create a database to track these documents. A system such as that available from Ethical Advocate is helpful for this purpose. The EA system can keep electronic versions of all of this information.
Protect the Information From Unauthorized Eyes
All companies should use advanced security features to protect data. For in-house systems, set your database’s access levels for each team member who will need access to the ethics program database. No other employee, with the possible exception of pre-determined upper management, should have access to the complaint records. This is to protect both the complainant and the alleged violator.
Again, using a system such as Ethical Advocate will meet an organization’s needs to keep data confidential. Different Ethical Advocate administrators and users can have access to various levels of reporting.
Work With A Consultant To Get The Database Up And Running
Choosing a database and record keeping system may seem daunting at first. Many company executives are not informed about the requirements and recommendations. Working with a consultant, such as experienced external counsel, will ease some of the anxiety and confusion. Such consultants know about whistleblower programs, such as Ethical Advocate, already in use. They will be able to apply industry-tested solutions to your program and customize those systems for your individual needs.
Ethical Advocate helps businesses protect their company by providing hotline solutions and training. Learn more about how a whistleblower program can save your company money.