The Ethics Resource Center (ERC) recently released an ethics survey of 2,100 Fortune 500 employees.
The ERC 2012 report by Fortune 500 employees is showing a higher rate of misconduct and retaliations than what was reported in a broad survey in 2011 conducted across all US companies. This year’s survey indicates more than half observed misconduct versus just 45% in the 2011 survey. This could show an overall increased trend in misconduct or indicate a higher prevalence of misconduct in Fortune 500 companies. A slightly higher rate of retaliation was reported, which highlights the importance of an anonymous employee hotline.
Just one percent of employees initially reported misconduct to an external government agency; seventeen percent reported to an external agency when they completed a second report. This could be due to disappointment over the company’s response to the first report; 26 percent of employees believe there was no investigation of the reported misconduct. Companies should thoroughly vet all reports of misconduct to avert government agency action, investigation, possible fines and potential debarment, in addition to ensuring employee satisfaction in reporting misconduct.
Company ethics teams and their respective ethics hotline program need to improve organizational communication. In the survey, fifteen percent of those who did not report misconduct said they did not know how to report it. Doubt that the company will take action is most commonly cited as the reason to not report. Ethics teams need to not only make employees more aware of the available mechanism to report, but must also ensure employees know reports are taken seriously and thoroughly investigated. Contact us today to discuss how Ethical Advocate can help your organization’s ethics team develop or improve ethics programs and communications.